Beijing should be vigilant against US efforts to disturb cooperation with Pakistan

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/1 22:08:40

China and the new Pakistan government need to keep vigilant against a deliberate provocation aimed at undermining economic cooperation regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that a possible fresh IMF bailout for Pakistan's new government should not be used to repay Chinese debt. It seems Washington has a clear intention to create obstacles for Islamabad, which is hoping to seek a bailout.

The Financial Times reported Tuesday that officials in Islamabad have accused Washington of trying to strong-arm Pakistan into scaling back Chinese investment in their country's infrastructure as part of a potential bailout by the IMF. Pakistan is trying to avert a foreign currency crisis, giving Washington an opportunity to use Pakistan's financial difficulties to deal a blow to the CPEC project and Chinese investment in Pakistan.

What lies behind Pompeo's words is Washington's strategic intent to damage Islamabad's ties with Beijing. In January, the US announced it would suspend security assistance to Pakistan until the government took adequate action against terrorist groups within its borders. It's understandable that Washington would be unwilling to see a closer economic relationship between China and Pakistan at a time when the US is trying to put pressure on Islamabad.

Mark Sobel, a former US representative to the IMF, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying that IMF needs to have at its fingertips comprehensive data on all CPEC lending - terms, maturities and the parties involved. We don't know if US allies seek help from the IMF, whether the fund will need to have comprehensive data on those countries' investment projects involving the US or other third parties.

If not, the US has no right to ask the IMF to give special treatment to Pakistan. The US is the IMF's biggest shareholder, but that doesn't mean Washington can do whatever it likes.

The CPEC is a flagship project in the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative. The US has not yet expressed clear intentions to join the initiative, so Washington has no reason to require China, Pakistan or other international organizations to divulge any information about the CPEC loans and related investment projects.

Amid escalating fears of a trade war with the US, China has to remain vigilant and prevent Washington from creating an economic disturbance in the areas surrounding China.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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