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Ambassador Yao Jing's Speech at the 5th CPEC Media Forum

His Excellency Mr. Mushahid Hussain Syed, Chairman of Senate Foreign Affairs Committee,

His Excellency Mr. Syed Shibli Faraz, Leader of the House, Senate of Pakistan,

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It’s my honor to attend the 5th China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Media Forum. Today many media friends who represent people of China and Pakistan gather together to share ideas and suggestions for “Belt and Road” and the CPEC. This fully demonstrates that the CPEC cooperation enjoys the support of the people, serves their well-being and has won highly reputation of the two countries.

When the people of China and Pakistan are working together to jointly promote CPEC for a better future, there are some noises from time to time. Early this morning, Ms. Alice Wells, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, talked about the CPEC in a public speech, which riggered many absurd views. I was very shocked. Actually, I had at least two times face-to-face conversations with Ms. Wells in Pakistan and briefed CPEC to her, but it seems that she did not listen carefully and still complained about “Lack of transparency”.

Many friends are very concerned about the construction progress of CPEC. To retaliate the negative propaganda, it is necessary for me to take this occasion to introduce the actual situation to people from all walks of life who care about CPEC, to restore the truth and to ensure a correct understanding of the facts.

CPEC has brought tangible economic and social benefits to Pakistan since its construction in more than six years, which is widely recognized. Prime Minister Imran Khan terms CPEC the top priority of the Pakistani government, and the Chinese Government also fully supports it. The generating capacity of the completed energy projects of CPEC accounts 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 on Nov. 18, and it resolves the trip problem along KKH.My friends in Abbotabad told me that the Highway helps them to shorten the travel time from 3 hours to 30 minutes. 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 this year in the ease of doing business from 136 in 2018, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings, while it moves upto 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 rates”, I have to point out Pakistan had a serious power shortage before 2014. The average load shedding was 6-12 hours per day, and the cost was as high as 17 cents/kWh. Everyone here has a deep understanding. 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 did not attract foreign investment including the United States. With the joint efforts of Pakistani and Chinese peoples, Port Qasim 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 4th and 16th 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.

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 no American companies came to Pakistan when Pakistan need it in 2014?

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). 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 design of the project, we would initiate a bidding in accordance with international practice. This is a completely normal business practice.

The groundless speculation that M5 motorway was involved in bidding corruption is totally ridiculous, and extremely irresponsible.

This project is the largest transportation infrastructure project conducted under the framework of CPEC. The governments of both China and Pakistan attach great importance to it. In June 2015, M5 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. All the operations of the project are in full compliance with the laws and regulations of Pakistan and can withstand any challenge and investigation. We keep in touch with National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of Pakistan and we both agree that the CPEC is clean. As for the cost of M5, the actual cost is slightly higher than that of ordinary motorway is completely reasonable and normal, because the project is located next to Indus river, which has caused high flood control design standards and more bridges. Meanwhile, long distance engineering materials transportation and higher pavement roughness index are also important.

About labor and employment, since the construction of the CPEC, it has created more than 75,000 jobs directly and 200,000 jobs indirectly 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. The CPEC 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.

Ms. Alice G. Wells said China only gave loans to Pakistan, not aid. This fully exposes her ignorance of China-Pakistan relations. At present, Western financial institutions are the biggest creditors of Pakistan. China's loan to Pakistan is aimed at Pakistan's fiscal stability and economic development, and China has never forced other countries to pay debts. About aid, 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 along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Chinese government offered 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. 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. Not a person, a few words can easily eliminate this ‘blood is thicker than water’ friendship. Moreover, in recent years, China has built 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 has 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.

I confidently believe that mutual respect, cooperation and win-win are the tenets of the mode of economic cooperation. The CPEC adheres to the principles of “ Belt and Road” international cooperation, which are extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. Ms. Wells made irresponsible remarks about China-Pakistan cooperation with her pieces of hearsay here and there. I would like to ask her how the "America First" values advocated by the US government can promote economic development. In the era of globalization, the international community bears responsibility for world peace and development. People around the world only observe the United States pursuing unilateralism, bullying and challenging international norms and systems. China will never do that. Pakistan is committed to economic development and is developing convenient policies. It is not only the investment destination of China, but also welcomes investment from other countries including the United States. But if you insist on "America First", I wonder how attractive this model is?

Under the joint planning of the two governments, the next phase of development of CPEC will continue to advance infrastructure constructions, focus on people's livelihood, and industrial and agricultural cooperation, maintain a sound momentum of high-quality development and bring more benefits to the two countries and peoples.

I want to conclude my speech by saying that the media is the platform for spreading the truth. Objective and fairness is the first ethic of the media. The US is attacking the CPEC by fabricating facts. I believe that the Chinese and Pakistani media will resolutely send out their own loud voice and show the world the truth of win-win cooperation of CPEC!

Thank you all.

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