BEIJING/ISLAMABAD: China’s official media played down the growing criticism over the $46 billion CPEC, saying the project had made "remarkable progress" though India opted for "disrupting" the initiative, reported foreign media.
"Three years on, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), described by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a game changer for the entire region, has entered into full implementation in 2016 and remarkable progress has been achieved," a commentary in the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
Referring to Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong's comments, it said 16 early harvest projects, including several power stations, highways and projects related to the Gwadar Port, were under construction and tens of thousands of new jobs have been created for the local people.
“There are at least 39 projects, (in CPEC) the majority of them related to energy, where obvious progress has been seen during 2016,” Saeed Chaudhry, director of the Islamabad Council for International Affairs, told Xinhua in a recently.
Another report said it was "undeniable" that there have been controversies over CPEC and particularly, on the 'Belt and Road Initiative' of China.
"Those controversies, which are created at the international level, are an effort to raise doubts about China's intensions. India and the US do not seem to be happy with Beijing's growing regional and global economic clout.
“India openly opposed the Belt and Road Initiative and CPEC. It opted for both overt and covert means to disrupt the smooth advancement on these two projects, which are complimentary to each other," it said.
Not a week goes by that one doesn't hear about China pumping even more money into Pakistan, as it was announced on Tuesday that Beijing would finance three more road projects under CPEC, said another foreign media house.
This follows last week's announcement that China will set up a steel factory in Gwadar city, also as part of CPEC. China will provide Pakistani Rs 107.76 billion as a soft loan for the three new projects, a government spokesman said.
This is on top of the Rs917 billion for another three road projects, making China's total contribution to the corridor-related road projects as high as Rs 1.025 trillion so far. On the other hand, Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal in Islamabad said projects worth $30 billion were being implemented under CPEC.
Addressing academics from the Peking University in China prior to 6th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) scheduled on Dec 29, the minister said CPEC was the biggest project under China’s One-Belt One-Road initiative that would unite the entire region.
He said with the addition of new projects in the 6th JCC, investment in CPEC would further increase. He said CPEC-related industrial cooperation would kick-start an economic revolution in Pakistan, generating investment and employment opportunities. He said eight industrial zones would be set up in all the provinces of the country, adding that there was a recommendation of two zones within Balochistan, including Gwadar free zone.
For the security of Chinese companies working on CPEC, a new security force had been formed, he added. He said China and Pakistan together would defeat all anti-CPEC forces, adding that the involvement of provinces in JCC with full spirit would help complete the CPEC projects on fast pace.
--Originally published in The News