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ISLAMABAD: Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng was due in the Pakistan capital on Sunday to mark the 10th anniversary of a mega economic plan that is the cornerstone of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Since its initiation in 2013, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has seen tens of billions of dollars funnelled into massive transport, energy and infrastructure projects.

But the project has also been hit by Pakistan struggling to keep up its financial obligations, as well as attacks on Chinese targets by militants.

‘Under CPEC various projects, including Gwadar port, have achieved full operational capacity’

“After a decade since its inception, CPEC has shown mixed results,” said Azeem Khalid, assistant professor of international relations at COMSATS University Islamabad.

“The primary goal of connecting China with the Arabian Sea is still relatively low in achievement for China. On the other hand, Pakistan has made notable progress in achieving short-term objectives.”

In recent years Beijing has been one of Islamabad’s most reliable foreign partners — readily providing financial assistance to bail out its often struggling neighbour.

Earlier this week, Beijing granted Pakistan a two-year rollover on a $2.4 billion loan, giving the debt-saddled nation much-needed breathing space as it tackles a balance-of-payments crisis.

An IMF report last year said China and its commercial banks held about 30 percent of Pakistan’s total external debt.

The two countries share a 596-kilometre (370-mile) frontier near the Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram Mountains, one of the world’s tallest ranges.

Pakistan politicians frequently trot out the phrase “stronger than the Himalayas, deeper than the ocean, and sweeter than honey” to portray the depth and closeness of the relationship with China.

But ties have been strained by numerous hurdles in recent years, including stalled or scaled-back CPEC projects.

The economic corridor presents an attractive gateway for China to access the Indian Ocean, but the safety and security of its workers has been a longstanding concern.

The corridor linking China’s far-western Xinjiang region with Pakistan’s strategic port of Gwadar in Balochistan has sparked claims that the vast influx of investment does not benefit locals.

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Tulukan Mairandi Jul 31, 2023 09:05am
He was welcomed by a big huge blast that killed 44 people. That should serve as a good enough warning to him.
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