China says $25bln invested in Pakistan since CPEC launched 7 years ago

In this photograph taken on Nov. 13, 2016, Pakistani Naval personnel stand guard near a ship carrying containers at the Gwadar port, some 700 kms west of Karachi, during the opening ceremony of a pilot trade program between Pakistan and China. (AFP/File)
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Updated 05 November 2020

China says $25bln invested in Pakistan since CPEC launched 7 years ago

  • Chinese foreign ministry says CPEC projects have enhanced infrastructure and electricity supply in Pakistan, created more than 70,000 jobs
  • CPEC has come in for criticism that projects under it are not sufficiently transparent and will saddle Pakistan with expensive Chinese loans

ISLAMABAD: Since the launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) seven years ago, Beijing had already brought $25 billion in direct investment to Pakistan, Pakistan’s state news agency reported the Chinese Foreign Ministry as saying.

CPEC has seen Beijing pledge over $60 billion for infrastructure projects in Pakistan, central to China’s wider Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to develop land and sea trade routes in Asia and beyond.

During his regular briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said many projects had already been launched and completed under CPEC, including recently the Orange Line Train in Lahore.

“Last month as an early harvest project, the Orange Line was made operational, marking the beginning of the subway era for Pakistan,” Wang said.

“These projects enhanced infrastructure and electricity supply in the country and created more than 70,000 direct positions and contributed one to two percentage points to the country’s GDP growth,” the spokesperson added.

He said CPEC projects had also enhanced regional connectivity, saying Pakistan’s neighbor Afghanistan was now importing food and other essential items through Pakistan’s Chinese-funded, deepwater port of Gwadar.

Gwadar, in the southwestern province of Balochistan, is the crown jewel of CPEC and the plan is to turn the port city into a trans-shipment hub and megaport to be built alongside special economic zones from which export-focused industries will ship goods worldwide. A web of energy pipelines, roads and rail links will connect Gwadar to China’s western regions.

“Gwadar port, since the first half of this year, started shipping cargo, weighing about 20,000 tons that carried wheat, sugar and fertilizers to Afghanistan,” the spokesperson told reporters. “This created about 1,000 jobs.”

He said China’s commitment to CPEC would continue as the two countries worked “together to implement our leaders’ consensus.”

In August, Pakistan’s top economic body approved its costliest project to date as part of the multibillion-dollar CPEC agreement, giving the go-ahead for a $6.8 billion project to upgrade its railway lines. The railway project, known as Mainline-1 (ML-1), will be built on a cost-sharing basis between Islamabad and Beijing.

Under the project, Pakistan’s existing 2,655km railway tracks will be upgraded to allow trains to move up to 165km per hour — twice as fast as they currently do — while the line capacity will increase from 34 to over 150 trains each way per day.

CPEC has come in for criticism from some western countries, particularly the United States, which says that the projects under it are not sufficiently transparent and will saddle Pakistan with the burden of expensive Chinese loans.

Both China and Pakistan have continuously downplayed such concerns over the years. The move ahead on ML-1, which has been on hold for years, will dispel notions that the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan is seeking to roll back some of the mega projects that he himself had questioned when in opposition.

Nepalese climbers bag mountaineering’s last great prize: winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2

Updated 18 min 5 sec ago

Nepalese climbers bag mountaineering’s last great prize: winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2

  • One of the ten Nepalese mountaineers performed the feat without using an oxygen cylinder
  • K2 earned the nickname of ‘savage mountain’ since a large number of climbers lost their lives while trying to scale it

ISLAMABAD: A group of Nepalese climbers made history on Saturday by summiting the world’s second tallest mountain, K2, in winter, according to its team leader who made the announcement on Facebook only minutes after making the accomplishment. 

“The Karakorum’s ‘Savage Mountain’ has been summited in the most dangerous season: WINTER,” Chhang Dawa Sherpa exclaimed in his social media post.

His announcement was also confirmed by an official of the Alpine Club of Pakistan which deals with mountaineering expeditions in the country.

At 8,611 meters, K2 was the only peak among the 14 “8000ers” located in the Karakorum and Himalayan mountain ranges that remained unconquered during winter. 

Along the icy glaciers of the Karakoram, mountaineers and locals speak about K2 summits with a hushed reverence, and folklore in the area is rife with mythical stories of the mountain “permitting” climbers to reach its top — considered the ultimate honor granted to a mortal by nature. 

When a climb doesn't go as planned, locals tell each other the mountain refused to be scaled. 

“The Nepalese climbers finally reached the summit of Mt. K2 … this afternoon at 17:00 local time,” Dawa wrote. “This is the first winter ascent of the 2nd highest mountain in the world and the ONLY eight-thousander (8000er) to be climbed in winter. This is a greatest achievement in the history of mountaineering, this is a good example of team work … ‘If a mountain lets you climb it, no one can stop you.’” 

One of the ten Nepalese climbers, Mingma G, also became the first mountaineer to summit the peak in winter without an oxygen cylinder.

K2 earned the nickname of “savage mountain” since a large number of climbers — 86 in all — lost their lives while trying to scale it. 

In 2008, 11 climbers from an international expedition died in what was considered as the single worst accident in the history of mountaineering. 

K2 straddles the Pakistan-China border. While it is about two-and-a-half football fields shorter than Everest (8,848 meters), it is widely considered to be the toughest and most dangerous mountain to climb. 

More than 300 climbers have scaled K2 in spring and summer. Italians Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli were the first to reach its summit in the summer of 1954.