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Wang Yi: Far from Aggravating the Debt Burden of Pakistan, the Construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Has Delivered Tangible Outcomes

On September 8, 2018, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi of Pakistan jointly met the press in Islamabad. When answering questions about whether the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) increased the debt burden of Pakistan, Wang Yi said that far from aggravating the debt burden of Pakistan, the construction of the CPEC has delivered tangible outcomes.

Wang Yi said that the CPEC is a major economic cooperation project carried out in response to the needs of the Pakistani side. Pakistan extended a helping hand to China when China faced difficulties. Therefore, China, a country valuing friendship and righteousness, is now willing to return the favor and help Pakistan accelerate economic and social development. I would like to introduce several figures to you. There are currently 22 cooperation projects with a total investment of 19 billion US dollars under the framework of the CPEC, 9 of which have been completed and 13 are under construction, driving up the annual economic growth of Pakistan by 1 to 2 percentage points, and creating 70,000 jobs for Pakistan. These tangible outcomes could be seen by all. What I want to emphasize is that the construction of the CPEC is not designed for any specific region or group, but is opened to Pakistan as a whole and benefit all the Pakistani people.

Wang Yi pointed out that the early outcomes of the CPEC have been concentrated on energy and transportation infrastructure, which is both an urgent requirement of the Pakistani side and also a necessary stage for any country to go through in industrialization process. Since it would be impossible to develop manufacture and smooth logistics without electricity and roads, these projects would help break through the bottlenecks of Pakistan's economic development and lay an important foundation for further development of the CPEC. In terms of how we will advance the construction in the next stage, we will as always respect the will of the Pakistani side. The two sides have initially agreed that the development of the CPEC will gradually stretch deeper into industrial cooperation and focus on helping the Pakistani side develop manufacturing and foster independent development capabilities, thus boosting employment and expanding trade. At the same time, we will also dedicate to improving the livelihood of the Pakistani people, so as to let more of them reap benefits from the development of the CPEC.

Wang Yi emphasized that it is a common practice to deal with debt issues for all countries to implement major projects through international financing. For years, international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank have offered loans to the Pakistani side. At present, 47 percent of the foreign debts held by the Pakistani side come from multilateral financial institutions. The Chinese side has directly invested in or provided assistance for 18 out of the 22 projects of the CPEC, and offered Chinese concessional loans to the remaining 4 projects. In this sense, it is crystal clear that far from increasing the debt burden of the Pakistani side, the projects of the CPEC, on the contrary, have delivered due economic benefits and brought the Pakistani side considerable economic rewards as the projects are gradually completed and put into operation.

Wang Yi said that regarding the "transparency" of the construction of the CPEC, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and I agreed that "transparency" is never an issue for these projects which have been guaranteed by scientific verification and implementation of due procedures. Both China and Pakistan are willing to attract third parties to participate in the construction of the CPEC, so that the CPEC will not only benefit the people of China and Pakistan, but also make greater contributions to promoting regional economic cooperation and connectivity and achieving common development.

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