China says willing to promote CPEC with Pakistan

BEIJING: China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said it was willing to promote the economic corridor with Pakistan.

The statement comes after Islamabad said it would secure soft loans from China totalling around $1 billion for three road projects in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

A spokesperson for Pakistan’s National Highway Authority (NHA), Ashraf Zaman, told Reuters on Tuesday hopefully relevant agreement would be signed in China-Pakistan Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting this week.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said she had no details about the meeting or any financing deals to be reached, but that the economic corridor project was an important one for both countries.

“Construction of the CPEC is a cooperation framework that the two countries set up with an eye to the future development of a long-term relationship. This economic corridor construction is not only beneficial to Pakistan’s economic and social development, but can also, as part of the “One Belt, One Road” construction, promote regional connectivity and development of infrastructure construction. So we are willing to work with Pakistan to steadily push forward relevant corridor construction,” she told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing.

Under the “One Belt, One Road” programme announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, China aims to invest in infrastructure projects including railways and power grids in central, west and southern Asia, as well as Africa and Europe.

The roads lie on the western route of CPEC, a $55 billion network of roads, rail links, power plants and other infrastructure connecting western China to Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar. They include roads from Raikot to Thakot, Yarik to Zhob and from Basima to Khuzdar, Zaman said, adding that the deal to finance the three roads was struck last month.