Our correspondent in Pakistan Ding Xuezhen, and reporter Li Sikun
The “Dawn” of Pakistan reported on the 10th that Pakistan and China have agreed to invite “third country” investors to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Yan Shuang, did not talk about this issue at her regular press conference of the 10th,. He said that China and Pakistan have decided to negotiate and determine the path of future development cooperation and direction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in accordance with the emerging economic and social development priorities of the Pakistani side and the needs of their peoples.
The Dawn said that this consensus was reached after prolonged consultations between Pakistan and China. The participants in this dialogue were the delegations of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform of Pakistan and the China Development and Reform Commission. No country has been specifically mentioned, but an official said that countries from Central Asia, Europe and some countries including Turkey, Russia and Saudi Arabia are likely to invest in the nine special economic zones concerned. Gwadar Port will be re-positioned optimally among them as an industrial center for export markets. The above countries can invest separately or jointly with Pakistan or China to take advantage of the port’s transshipment potential, location and benefits of the free trade zone. “Dawn” quoted sources as saying that Beijing hopes that countries with friendly relations with China and Pakistan will participate in the construction of special economic zones to refute the voices of criticism, especially the charge of opacity of the related projects by US and India.
The previous day, the Financial Times reported that Pakistan was re-considering its role in the “Belt and Road Initiative”, citing the Government’s Advisor on commercial, textile, industrial and investment matters, Razak Dawood,, as having stated that “Chinese companies have received multiple benefits such as taxation and enjoyed excessive privileges in Pakistan. This is one of the things we are paying attention to because Pakistani companies believe this to be unfair.”
In response to this report, the Pakistani government issued a statement on the 10th refuting it and saying that the statement of Razak Dawood was quoted out of context and distorted. Pakistan refused to acknowledge the report, especially its title. The statement said that during the recent visit of Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, Pakistan and China reaffirmed the “all-weather strategic partnership” and the two countries’ commitment to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The Pakistani side assured the Chinese side that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was a national priority for the Pakistani government and that there was total convergence between the two sides on the future direction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.