China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will lead to long-term economic damage for Pakistan with little or no return, warned the United States on Thursday (21 November), reports Gulf News.
The top US diplomat for South Asia region Alice Wells said, CPEC would profit only Beijing and the US offered a better model. The acting assistant secretary of state for South Asia added, “It’s clear, or it needs to be clear, that CPEC is not about aid.”
Speaking at the prestigious Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, Wells noted that the multi-billion-dollar initiative was driven by non-concessionary loans and she said, “CPEC relies primarily on Chinese workers and supplies, even amid rising unemployment in Pakistan.”
The corridor “is going to take a growing toll on the Pakistan economy, especially when the bulk of payments start to come due in the next four to six years,” she said.
“Even if loan payments are deferred, they are going to continue to hang over Pakistan’s economic development potential, hamstringing Prime Minister (Imran) Khan’s reform agenda,” she said.
The United States sees China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a direct challenge to its influence in central Asia. Pakistan has been an ally of the US since 1947, however the relationship has been turbulent in recent years over Islamabad’s ties with Islamist militant group and it becoming a centre for the spread of Islamic terrorism.
Wells said private US investment, coupled with US grants, would improve Pakistan’s troubled economic fundamentals.
She said “Worldwide we see that US companies bring more than just capital; they bring values, processes and expertise that build the capacities of local economies.”
Pakistan is hoping that China will develop Gwadar on the Arabian Sea into a world-class port which will have huge economic and strategic value due to its proximity to Strait of Hormuz.
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