BEIJING – A Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson on Monday appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and said that the Chinese side was having discussion with third parties, including Afghanistan on the extension of the flagship project.
“We have noted the relevant remarks by Prime Minister Imran Khan and we appreciate it,” Zhao Lijian said during his regular briefing while responding to a question on PM Imran Khan’s remarks about CPEC.
While chairing a recent high level meeting, the prime minister had stated that the CPEC will bring economic progress not only to Pakistan, but the entire region. The spokesperson said that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was an open and inclusive international economic cooperation initiative that was dedicated to improve connectivity and to achieve common development.
“The CPEC as pioneering projects of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has made important and major progress in infrastructure, energy, ports and industrial parks,” he added.
In the meantime, he said, “We are also extending it to regional countries, including Afghanistan. This will not only boost faster economic development in Pakistan, but also regional connectivity.”
Zhao Lijian said that China would like to work with Pakistan for high quality development of the CPEC and extend it to regional countries, improve people’s well being and play a bigger role in regional connectivity and economic integration.
To a specific question on third party participation in the CPEC framework, he informed that China was having discussion with third parties, including Afghanistan, on the extension of CPEC.
The two sides were having consultations through diplomatic channels, he said and added, “We notice that Afghanistan is importing and exporting goods through Gwadar and Karachi ports. High speed highways are also being extended to Afghanistan.”
To yet another question, he dismissed Indian claim that the CPEC was passing through a disputed territory and said that China had stated its principled position on Kashmir many times.
“The CPEC is an economic initiative that targets no third country. It is not about territorial disputes and does not affect our principled position on the issue of Kashmir,” he added.
Responding to a question regarding Myanmar, the spokesperson said he was not aware of fighting between Myanmar military forces and opposition across the river from Ruili, close to China’s borders.
Zhao Lijian said that China’s position on the situation in Myanmar was consistent and clear, adding, “We do not want to see any bloodshed and clashes or any injury to civilians.”
He asked the relevant sides to try their best to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control and said that China would continue to maintain communication with the relevant sides and try to bring the situation to a steady path at an early date.