Countries vow inclusive collaboration on high-quality development of CPEC
China has rejected accusations of creating a "debt trap" in Pakistan and it will push forward the high-quality construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to help Pakistan achieve independent, balanced and sustainable development.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang made the remarks on Saturday at a joint news conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Islamabad, after they co-chaired the fourth round of the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue.
Noting this year marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of CPEC, Qin said that under the joint efforts of China and Pakistan, the corridor has become a model of Belt and Road cooperation, bringing significant improvement to Pakistan's infrastructure, and tangible economic and social benefits.
The two countries are accelerating the high-quality development of the corridor and fostering new drivers of economic growth. This will help Pakistan become involved in international industrial cooperation, form competitive industry clusters and enhance export competitiveness, Qin said.
"Some forces have fabricated the lie that China is creating a 'debt trap' in Pakistan. I suggest our media friends ask those people what they have done for Pakistan's development and what real money they have invested in the country. I believe the people of Pakistan don't need high-sounding rhetoric, but real help," Qin said.
Under the CPEC platform, China will continue to work with Pakistan to promote synergy on development strategies and share development opportunities, he said.
In a joint news release on the two foreign ministers' dialogue, China and Pakistan stressed that CPEC is an open and inclusive platform for win-win cooperation and invited third parties to maximize the benefits from it.
Qin said that China is ready to deepen security cooperation and hopes that Pakistan continues to take the most stringent measures to protect the security of Chinese personnel, projects and institutions in the country.
Li Qingyan, an associate researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, said the so-called debt trap is a fabricated "narrative trap" and groundless disinformation.
Li said the debt crisis in Pakistan could be attributed to many factors, including the Ukraine conflict, the United States Federal Reserve raising interest rates, as well as Pakistan's own economic problems.
About 47 percent of Pakistan's foreign debt is owed to multilateral financial institutions, and only a small portion is owed to China, she said.
The plight is not caused by Chinese loans and CPEC has not increased the debt burden of Pakistan. The projects are transparent and have advanced in an orderly manner under consensus reached between the two countries, she said.
China and Pakistan should give full play to the leading role of CPEC in strengthening Islamabad's own development capacity, promoting the integration of competitive industries of both countries, and improving Pakistan's business environment, she said.
The two countries should also deepen communication and cooperation on security to avoid risks and improve the corridor's security guarantee, she added.
Qin also attended the fifth China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue in Islamabad on Saturday, at which the three countries pledged to further strengthen trilateral cooperation on security and counterterrorism.
Xinhua contributed to this story.