Pakistan seeks Saudi role in CPEC to lessen financial burden
21 September 2018
Pakistan is trying to rope in Saudi Arabia as the third “strategic partner” of the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), in a bid to lessen the financial burden of China’s high-cost infrastructure projects on Pakistan’s economy.
A senior Pakistan minister made an announcement towards this on Thursday, after Prime Minister Imran Khan returned from his first foreign trip to the cash-rich kingdom.
The CPEC is the flagship project of the multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, aimed at enhancing Beijing’s influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects.
An extension of the project to Saudi Arabia will both achieve China’s need to push into new areas of influence and Pakistan’s need to find source of finance for the Chinese projects.
It is also important for both Pakistan and China that the project is implemented at any cost as it is essential to take forward bilateral relations.
Addressing a press conference after Imran Khan’s two-day visit to Saudi Arabia and UAE, minister of information Fawad Chaudhry said Pakistan has invited Riyadh to join the CPEC as the third “strategic partner”.
Saudi minister of finance and energy will visit Pakistan in the first week of October, The News quoted Chaudhry as saying.
He said Saudi Arabia will decide on investing in the CPEC after the Saudi delegation’s visit.
CPEC is widely seen as a “debt trap” that could compromise cash-strapped Pakistan’s sovereignty, although China has rejected accusations.
CPEC is the flagship project of President Xi’s global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The CPEC includes the construction and upgradation of the transportation network, energy projects, a deep-water port at Gwadar and special economic zones to eventually support Pakistan’s industrial development as a manufacturing hub by 2030.
Chaudhry said that Prime Minister Khan has assured Riyadh that Pakistan will stand with Saudi Arabia.
“We have also assured the Saudi leadership that we will continue to provide security to their country and provide strategic support wherever needed,” he said on the close defence partnership between the close allies.
He also said that a high-level coordination committee has been constituted and it has the complete backing of Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and Prime Minister Khan.