Yao Jing: Ms. Alice Wells’ smear on CPEC expose her ignorance
ISLAMABAD, Nov.22 (MAARIJ FAROOQ) – Talking about the smear about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that Ms. Alice G. Wells, assistant Secretary of USA for South and Central Asian Affairs gave on 21, November US time, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing said at the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Media Forum in Islamabad on 22, November morning, the economic and social benefits the CPEC has brought to Pakistan over the past six years are obvious to all. The completed energy projects in the corridor provide nearly 30% of the total electricity generation in Pakistan, providing energy security for the country’s economic development. If the US is really concerned about the lack of electricity in Pakistan, why didn’t the US companies come to build power stations before 2014?
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Media Forum is hosted by the Embassy of People’s Republic of China in Pakistan and jointly organized by the Pakistan-China Institute and China Economic Net. On the Forum, Ambassador Yao Jing and a number of Pakistani lawmakers and members of the Chinese and Pakistani media refuted Wells’ negative remarks.
Photo shows Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing giving speech on 5th China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Media Forum, 22 November, 2019, Islamabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Wang Yan/China Economic Net)
He said, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has brought tangible economic and social benefits to Pakistan since its construction in more than six years, which is widely recognized. The generating capacity of the completed energy projects of CPEC account for nearly 30 percent of Pakistan’s total power generation. These projects have provided the energy security for Pakistan’s economic development. The Havelian-Mansehra section of Karakorum Highway (KKH) II opened to traffic just in Nov. 18, and it resolves the trip problem along KKH. The Initial District of Gwadar Free Zone has got over 20 enterprises residents, with a direct investment over 600 million U.S. dollars.
Amid the construction of CPEC, Pakistan is ranked 108 in the ease of doing business from 136 in 2018, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. Pakistan takes the 82th place from the 108th on global competitiveness index. All these make great opportunities for attracting foreign investment and realizing industrial upgrading. Regarding the issue of high electricity prices, Pakistan had a serious power shortage before 2014. The average power outage was 6-12 hours per day, and the cost was as high as 17 cents/kWh. Everyone here has a deep understanding, he said.
He said, in order to reduce power generation cost and solve the power shortage problem, the Pakistani government issued the 2014 Upfront Tariff Policy for imported coal power plant in 2014 to attract investment in Pakistan’s energy sector. The policy is open and transparent and applies to both local and foreign investors. However, this policy has not attracted foreign investment including the United States. In order to support Pakistan, Chinese government approved of Powerchina and Huaneng Group’s investments in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor framework in 2015. With the joint efforts of the two peoples, Qasim Port Power Plant and Sahiwal Power Plant have been completed and put into operation before schedule. Pakistan’s Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) regularly puts the electricity prices of 131 configurable thermal power units in numerical order from high to low, and purchases electricity according to the price. In the ranking in June 2019, Qasim Power Plant and Sahiwal Power Plant ranked fourth and sixteenth from the bottom respectively. Due to their advantageous power prices, advanced technology and stable power supply, the Pakistani government has been asking the two power plants to operate at full generating capacity and purchasing all the electricity generated.
Photo shows 5th China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Media Forum are holding, 22 November, 2019, Islamabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Wang Yan/China Economic Net)
He said, facts have proved that China has provided the Pakistani people with cheap and clean energy and has won unanimous support from Pakistani people of all walks of life. The people of China and Pakistan are the most qualified to evaluate the corridor. If the United States really cares about the power shortage in Pakistan, why there have been no American companies coming to Pakistan to build power plants before 2014?
The groundless speculation that so called M5 motorway was involved in bidding corruption is totally ridiculous, and extremely irresponsible. PKM project is the largest transportation infrastructure project conducted under the framework of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The governments of both China and Pakistan attach great importance to it. In 2013, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and the Pakistani government signed a Memorandum?of?Understanding (MOU), which envisaged a motorway linking Karachi to Lahore. Both sides expressed the intention of cooperation at that time. However, there is no legal binding or enforcement on this MOU. The validity lasted only one year and it had expired on July 4, 2014, he said.
In June 2015, PKM project officially launched the bidding process. Through fair bidding, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) won the bid at the lowest price.
The entire process is open and transparent and is in line with international practice and laws and regulations of Pakistan. All the operations of the project are in full compliance with the laws and regulations of Pakistan and can withstand any challenge and investigation.
As for the cost, the actual cost of this project is slightly higher than that of the ordinary motorway is completely reasonable and normal, because the project is located next to Indus river, which caused high flood control design standards and more bridges. Meanwhile, long distance engineering materials transportation and higher pavement roughness index are also the main reason, he said.
He said, as to the ML-1 project, the initial design of the project was jointly accomplished by the China Railway No 2 Bureau, NESPAK (National Engineering Services Pakistan Limited), and PRACS (Pakistan Railway Advisory & Consultancy Services Ltd) (NESPAK and PRACS are responsible for checking the design paper and quantities). The project was launched in 2016, and the initial design were submitted in May 2017. In April, 2019, it has successfully passed the initial design review, organized by PR (Pakistan Railways), of the complex including MMP (Mott McDonald Pakistan), Canarail（from Canada） and the Crimson. As the project has not yet been approved, the amounts of the project will be adjusted according to the actual condition and the needs of Pakistan. After finalizing the project, we would initiate a bidding in accordance with international practice. This is a completely normal business practice.
Touching on labor and employment, Yao said that since the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), more than 75,000 jobs have been created directly for the Pakistani people, with its per capita income increased by 23 percent. More than 100 small and medium-sized enterprises have participated in the construction of the CPEC, providing hundreds of thousands of jobs. Among which, the transport infrastructure project Sukkur-Multan Motorway has created about 29,000 local jobs, and a large number of Pakistani technicians have been trained during its construction. In particular, more and more Pakistani women are finding jobs under the CPEC construction and participating in social life. The project is expected to create 2.3 million jobs between 2015 and 2030 and boost the Pakistan’s annual economic growth rate by 2-2.5 percent, according to the Pakistani government, he said.
He said, Ms. Alice G. Wells, assistant Secretary of USA for South and Central Asian Affairs said China only gave loans to Pakistan, not aid. This fully exposes her ignorance of China-Pakistan relations. China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners who stand together through thick and thin and share weal and woe. In recent years, for example, in October, 2015 earthquake happened on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Chinese government provided RMB 10 million of emergency humanitarian aid to Pakistan, which was the first batch of foreign aid arrived in Pakistan. In 2016, the Chinese government provided free cash assistance of USD 10 million to Pakistan to help people in the FATA region return to their homes sooner. Similarly, when the Wenchuan earthquake hit China in 2008, the Pakistani government immediately sent more than 10 tons of relief materials to the disaster area and donated 22,260 tents.
He said, this ‘blood is thicker than water’ friendship, not a person, a few words can easily eliminate. Moreover, in recent years, China has build infrastructure projects with grant in Pakistan such as the Karakoram highway, Pakistan sports center and China-Pakistan friendship center, Faqeer primary school, and FATA district school. In order to help Baluchistan’s development, China have also assisted in the construction of the Gwadar east bay expressway and the new Gwadar international airport. China will also provide medical supplies, vaccine refrigeration equipment, solar lighting equipment and smart classrooms for primary and secondary schools to Pakistan and actively participate in social and livelihood undertakings. Under the joint planning of the two governments, the next phase of development of the corridor will continue to advance infrastructure constructions, focus on people’s livelihood and focus on industrial and agricultural cooperation, maintain a sound momentum of high-quality development and bring more benefits to the two countries and peoples.