CPEC construction will not be hindered by COVID-19 pandemic: expert
Published: Jul 20, 2020 08:48 PM

A health official takes a sample from a person sitting in a car at a drive-through screening and testing facility for COVID-19 in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan on June 8, 2020. (Xinhua/Ahmad Kamal)

The construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will not be decelerated but is instead progressing, a leading Chinese academic on the CPEC told the Global Times after Indian media reported that Chinese personnel working at CPEC projects lodged concerns over virus prevention and control efforts by the Pakistani government. 

The comments came after India's Sunday Guardian reported that some Chinese business executives have filed internal reports over the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Pakistani side and that mental health problems have arisen among Chinese working at CPEC project sites. The CPEC is a flagship project under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

However, Zhou Rong, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University of China and a leading academic on the CPEC, said CPEC construction will not be stalled and that CPEC construction has recently seen notable progress, with deals signed by China's Gezhouba Group and Three Gorges Corp for two major hydroplants. 

Zhu said that not one member of the 70,000-strong CPEC workforce - both Pakistani and Chinese - has thus far contracted the deadly virus, and that this is nothing short of a miracle given the grave situation in the South Asian country. 

Given the effectiveness of virus prevention and control measures introduced by Chinese companies at CPEC sites, Pakistan could incorporate some of that experience in its fight against the virus.

"Virus control and prevention in the civilian sector is different from at the project sites, but the necessary and effective measures are worthy of being copied elsewhere to keep the virus in check," Zhu told the Global Times on Monday.   

Pakistan's confirmed COVID-19 cases have topped 265,000, with over 5,500 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University by press time on Monday.

The CPEC recently extended its reach to Afghanistan, with Pakistan's Gwadar Port officially kick starting its transit trade with land-locked Afghanistan in early July.

The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan on Friday tweeted that China is pleased to see the Gwadar Port playing a role in the extension of the CPEC to Afghanistan, which will bring more BRI benefits to the Afghan people.

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