Pakistan: Saudi Arabia to Join China-Funded Development Project

Ayaz Gul

In this photo released by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, left, meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Sept. 19, 2018, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan announced Thursday that Saudi Arabia has agreed to join and invest “heavily” in its ongoing China-funded bilateral infrastructure and industrial development projects.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s extensive meetings with the Saudi leadership during this week’s official visit to Riyadh resulted in the landmark development, the Pakistani information minister said.

As part of President Xi Jinping’s global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Beijing is investing billions of dollars in Pakistan to help the close ally build and upgrade the transportation network, power plants, expand the deep-water port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea, establish industrial zones to enhance Pakistan’s capacity as a manufacturing hub in the region.

The bilateral program, known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is the fastest-moving part of BRI and regarded as the flagship piece.

“Saudi Arabia is the first country that we have invited to become a third partner in CPEC. They will be our third strategic economic partner in CPEC, and Saudi Arabia is expected to bring massive direct investments to the project,” Minister Fawad Chaudhry told a news conference in Islamabad.

A high-level advisory committee, proposed by Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, has been constituted to work out details of the initiative, he said.

Chaudhry added that Saudi Arabia plans to send a senior-level delegation, including their ministers of finance and energy, to Pakistan in the first week of October. The two sides during the visit will “lay the foundation of a major economic partnership” between the two countries. The move is likely to cement traditional close relations between Islamabad and Riyadh.

Historic investment

CPEC already has brought an unprecedented $19 billion in Chinese investment to Pakistan over the past five years, creating more than 70,000 local jobs and adding thousands of megawatts of much-need electricity to the national gird. In the next 15 years, China plans to invest an estimated $62 billion in Pakistan.

The corridor ultimately aims to provide access to the landlocked western Chinese region of Xinjiang for international markets via the Pakistani Gwadar port.

Saudi partnership in CPEC is being viewed as a major boost for cash-strapped Pakistan facing an economic crisis and critical balance of payments pressure. Foreign debt repayments have left the country with less than two months of imports worth of foreign exchange reserves, Pakistani finance minister Asad Umar informed the parliament this week.

“Saudi Arabia’s active participation in CPEC is a welcome development as it shows the success of CPEC,” said Senator Mushahid Hussain, head of the foreign affairs committee of the upper house of the Pakistani parliament.

“It will help counter negativism about CPEC emanating from India and the United States, and it also highlights the importance of Pakistan as the pivotal player in regional economic cooperation,” Hussain told VOA.

BRI criticism

New Delhi and Washington both have been critical of CPEC and BRI in general. India suspects the project has hidden security objectives and says a portion of it is being built on the disputed Kashmir territory. Pakistani and Chinese officials dismiss those objections as politically motivated and maintain CPEC is “purely an economic initiative.”

Beijing also rejects criticism that CPEC is burdening Pakistan with expansive loans and it is pushing the country into a debt trap.

Only four of the 22 early harvest projects that have been or are being completed are using Chinese concessional loans of about $6 billion, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during his visit to Islamabad earlier this month. The rest of the projects, he said, are being constructed with direct Chinese investment or with the Chinese assistance.

“CPEC has not inflicted a debt burden on Pakistan, rather when these projects get completed and enter into operation, they will unleash huge economic benefits … and these will bring considerable returns to the Pakistani economy,” Wang said.

While Islamabad’s ties with Washington have deteriorated, Beijing has deepened bilateral economic and military relations with its South Asian partner. Russia also has stepped in and is rapidly reviving bilateral ties in all fields with old rival Pakistan.

Pakistan’s tensions with the U.S. stem from allegations the country is harboring terrorist sanctuaries used for attacks against American and local forces in neighboring Afghanistan — charges Pakistani officials reject.

Beijing and Moscow both have praised Islamabad’s efforts against terrorism, saying they have contributed to regional peace and stability.

Leave a Reply

SSCP   CAS-002   9L0-066   350-050   642-999   220-801   74-678   642-732   400-051   ICGB   c2010-652   70-413   101-400   220-902   350-080   210-260   70-246   1Z0-144   3002   AWS-SYSOPS   70-347   PEGACPBA71V1   220-901   70-534   LX0-104   070-461   HP0-S42   1Z0-061   000-105   70-486   70-177   N10-006   500-260   640-692   70-980   CISM   VCP550   70-532   200-101   000-080   PR000041   2V0-621   70-411   352-001   70-480   70-461   ICBB   000-089   70-410   350-029   1Z0-060   2V0-620   210-065   70-463   70-483   CRISC   MB6-703   1z0-808   220-802   ITILFND   1Z0-804   LX0-103   MB2-704   210-060   101   200-310   640-911   200-120   EX300   300-209   1Z0-803   350-001   400-201   9L0-012   70-488   JN0-102   640-916   70-270   100-101   MB5-705   JK0-022   350-060   300-320   1z0-434   350-018   400-101   350-030   000-106   ADM-201   300-135   300-208   EX200   PMP   NSE4   1Z0-051   c2010-657   C_TFIN52_66   300-115   70-417   9A0-385   70-243   300-075   70-487   NS0-157   MB2-707   70-533   CAP   OG0-093   M70-101   300-070   102-400   JN0-360   SY0-401   000-017   300-206   CCA-500   70-412   2V0-621D   70-178   810-403   70-462   OG0-091   1V0-601   200-355   000-104   700-501   70-346   CISSP   300-101   1Y0-201   200-125  , 200-125  , 100-105  , 100-105  , CISM   NS0-157   350-018  , NS0-157   ICBB  , N10-006 test  , 350-050   70-534   70-178   220-802   102-400   000-106   70-411  , 400-101   100-101  , NS0-157   1Z0-803   200-125  , 210-060   400-201   350-050   C_TFIN52_66  , JN0-102  , 200-355   JN0-360   70-411   350-018  , 70-412   350-030   640-916   000-105   100-105  , 70-270  , 70-462   300-070  , 300-070   642-999   101-400   PR000041   200-101  , 350-030   300-070  , 70-270  , 400-051   200-120   70-178   9L0-012   70-487   LX0-103   100-105  ,