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Pakistanis reject Alice Wells’ anti-China statements

By Zamir Ahmed Awan (People's Daily Online)    13:19, May 28, 2020

The people of Pakistan reject the “irresponsible remarks” of US diplomat Alice Wells. After being in deep crisis for the last four decades, Pakistan has learned from its bitter experiences and become mature enough to understand this “doomed attempt to defame Sino-Pak relations".

Wells has passed similar remarks in the recent past on different occasions in her efforts to spoil China-Pakistan relations. On the surface, her remarks look as if they are in favor of Pakistan, but she knows how to choose the right vocabulary and themes to express her anti-China sentiments and incite the people of Pakistan against China. In fact, the US is fighting an anti-China War in Pakistan.

She said that the US calls on “China to offer transparent relief from the BRI’s predatory loans that countries are suffering from.” Wells had reiterated that the US was concerned about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects because of a lack of transparency, and the unfair rates of profits that are guaranteed to Chinese firms involved in their execution. Earlier, Wells had repeated her criticism of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC during an online media briefing and had urged China to relieve the countries involved in these undertakings of its “predatory loans".

This is not the first time Wells has criticized CPEC. In November 2019, Wells said that the multi-billion-dollar project would take a toll on Pakistan’s economy at the time of repayments and dividend in the coming years. She stated that the project was a form of financing that guarantees profits for Chinese state-owned enterprises, with little benefits for Islamabad.

In a statement issued in response to the US diplomat's comments, the Chinese embassy in Pakistan called her speech "totally baseless [and] just a repetition of her same old tune". "We take Pakistan as an equal partner and never asked Pakistan to 'do more'. We support Pakistan’s own model of development and never intervene in its domestic affairs. We highlight Pakistan’s responsible role in regional affairs and never exert pressure. CPEC is an important cooperation project between the two countries. It has always adhered to the principles of mutual benefit, win-win cooperation, openness and transparency.

"The planning and implementation of the projects are carried out by the two sides through thorough consultations based on equality and scientific study. The Chinese companies under the project are all leading companies in their respective sectors and operate in full compliance with local laws and regulations," the statement said. It added that to date, CPEC has brought $25 million in direct investment and created more than 75,000 jobs in Pakistan. "China has been the major source [of foreign direct investment] in Pakistan for the last five consecutive years."

Regarding the cooperation between China and Pakistan on the COVID-19 front, the Chinese Embassy said: "All Chinese companies working for CPEC have generously donated medical assistance to Pakistan [...] Over 20,000 Pakistani students are studying in China on scholarships provided by the Chinese government and universities. In the next stage of the project, both sides will strengthen cooperation on healthcare, industrial development, agriculture and education. CPEC will bring a new impetus to Pakistan’s economic revival even in the post Covid-19 period."

China and Pakistan have a unique relationship that may be beyond the US’ comprehension. The Chinese Embassy stated that China will "never force Pakistan to pay back debts" and that "China's loans have no strings attached". "We have no intention to comment on Pakistan-US relations, but we hope that the United States can show basic respect to the [two countries]," the statement said, adding that China hoped the US would abandon its "Cold War and zero sum mentality" and give "concrete assistance to Pakistan". "We don’t need any teachers, especially a teacher like the US," the statement concluded.

Pakistan is a country of 220 million people and an old civilization. It is a mature nation that understands its national interests. Let the people of Pakistan decide and set their own priorities. The US advice may seem improper and misguided. We thank our brothers and sisters in China for understanding the true feelings of Pakistanis and extending their support at crucial moments. The people of Pakistan will not disappoint the Chinese and will do whatever is necessary to successfully complete CPEC. 

The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to People's Daily Online.

Zamir Ahmed Awan is a senior fellow with the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and a sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan. E-mail: [email protected]

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