Beijing has refuted the reports suggesting that the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under construction with Islamabad has “hidden” military or strategic bases, maintaining the commercial status of the project.
“I want to make it very clear, BRI initiative and with CPEC under it, it’s purely a commercial development project. We don’t have any kind of military or strategic design for that,” said Chinese ambassador to Islamabad Yao Jing, in an exclusive interview with Voice Of America (VOA).
“There are some kind of doubts that maybe there are some things hidden in it. I think that when you have an objective lens to look at this project and to come to the ground to find this progress on the ground then you may have a better understanding of what we are doing here,” Jing added.
The economic corridor is a multi-billion dollar project between China and Pakistan, as the former aims to develop ports, highways, motorways, railways, airports, power plants and other infrastructure in the neigbouring country.
The building of the CPEC project is a combination of building roads, rails, power plants and economic free zones in Pakistan.
Thousands of Chinese engineers are currently working on the project. When built, it will link Gwadar to Xinjiang region in China, through Khunjerab Pass, giving Beijing a secure and shortest trade access to international markets.
The expansion and operations of the deep-sea port of Gwadar, located in the south of Pakistan on the Arabian Sea, is at the heart of the $63 billion project. The strategically located port is operated by a Chinese state-run company, according to the report.
The Chinese Diplomat’s remarks came in the backdrop of concerns expressed by both the United States (US) and India that China could attempt turning Gwadar Port into the military one.
India is against the CPEC project since it passes through the disputed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) region.