China says more projects planned under CPEC

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BEIJING, Oct 16 (PTI): China said on Tuesday there will be more projects planned under the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor amid the concern over piling up of debt by Pakistan prompting it to approach the IMF for a bailout package.

Cash-strapped Pakistan has formally approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package as it reeled under serious economic crisis.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lu Kang on Tuesday said that there will be more projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a day after he stated that the CPEC debt liabilities were in low proportion.

He also said the China-Pakistan ties will make new headway under the new government.

The entire project is stated to be worth around USD 60 billion.

“China and Pakistan are all weather strategic partners. In recent years, our bilateral relations are operating at a high level,” Lu said replying to question about the high-level visits planned between the two countries.

He said since the establishment of the new government in Pakistan headed by Imran Khan, “this sound momentum is sustained.”

“Going forward, we expect more high level important exchanges and there will be more projects in the CPEC and practical cooperation in various fields,” he said.

Reports said Khan is expected to visit Beijing on November 3 for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top leaders.

Lu said “we will also see people-to-people cooperation in various fields. China and Pakistan maintain sound coordination on important regional and international issues. So under the concerted efforts China-Pakistan relations will make new headway,” he said.

After the new government took over, China has agreed to extend the CPEC projects to Balochistan province to address the criticism that only the dominant Punjab province grabbed most of Chinese investments.

On Monday, Lu while reacting the move by Pakistan to approach IMF for a bailout package said that China wants an “objective and professional” evaluation of its loans to Pakistan by IMF. The measures to be worked out by IMF should not affect the China-Pakistan relations, he said.

An IMF team is scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on November 7 to negotiate the programme, likely to span over a three-year period, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar said on Sunday after his meeting with the Managing Director Christine Lagarde in Indonesia.

He said Pakistan’s current year debt repayments were about USD nine billion.

Pakistan also announced the plans to cut a USD 8.2 billion railway project between the Karachi and Peshawar the biggest under the CPEC by about USD 2 billion to reduce the debt burden.

The Trump administration has been critical of China’s Belt and Road initiative, saying that it has saddled some developing countries with debts they cannot afford to repay.

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