Concerns that CPEC will result in colonialism in Pakistan by China are not new and still wrong

By Wang Jiamei Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/12 22:28:39

People often use warnings from history, but those warnings can sometimes be misplaced. The allegation that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) - a flagship project under the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative - would be a new form of colonialism seems to be an obvious example of the deceptive use of history.

Pakistani political economist S. Akbar Zaidi said in a lecture on Friday that Pakistan will become a colony of China once the CPEC is ready, alleging that "it will enslave Pakistan and undermine its sovereignty," according to a report by The Economic Times on Monday.

Zaidi further claimed that during the CPEC process, China's "blueprint will ensure complete control over Pakistan." Zaidi is not the first and probably won't be the last person to raise such concerns, even though there are no facts to support his theory.

Of course, only time will tell whether or not there will be a repeat of colonialism under the B&R. But irresponsible use of history is misleading for the public's understanding of the CPEC. So far, at least based on what China has done in Pakistan, it is hard to link the CPEC project with China trying to exploit Pakistan economically. It's also hard to understand how some infrastructure projects could threaten a country's sovereignty.

As we all know, the CPEC is a collection of projects mainly focusing on the connectivity of infrastructure such as transportation networks, energy projects and special economic zones. It should be made clear that the construction of infrastructure is aimed at actually facilitating Pakistan's modernization and industrialization instead of exploiting or dumping surplus Chinese goods in the local market. For instance, energy projects backed by Chinese operators will not only provide employment opportunities for local people, but will also help Pakistan modernize its energy sector and meet its growing energy needs.

Zaidi also said that Pakistan should be alert to the debt risks brought by Chinese investment, which "turned sour in Sri Lanka, Tajikistan and several parts of Africa."

The accusation is essentially a conspiracy theory which, without any foundation, presents China as an evil investor and treats the countries relying on Chinese investment to prop up the local economy as brainless recipients. Connectivity is critical for the success of the B&R, which means that if Pakistan wants to achieve industrialization with China's help, it also needs to make adjustments on its own toward the goal.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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