Pakistan owes China a debt of at least USD 10 billion for the construction of the Gwadar port and other projects, a top US general has claimed while explaining Beijing’s “predatory economics” to expand its global influence.
The port in Balochistan province on the Arabian Sea is being constructed by China under the multi-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and is considered to be a link between Beijing’s ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) and Maritime Silk Road projects. Interestingly, this business link between the two countries is also seen as one of the reasons behind China blocking UN’s attempt to blacklist Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.
“Let us look at just a few examples. Saddled with predatory Chinese loans, Sri Lanka granted China a 99-year lease and 70 per cent stake in its deep-water port,” General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. He added that the Maldives owes China around USD 1.5 billion, which is approximately 30 per cent of its GDP, for construction costs while Pakistan owes the same country at least USD 10 billion in debt for the construction of Gwadar Port and other projects.
“China is diligently building an international network of coercion through predatory economics to expand its sphere of influence,” he said, adding that countries around the world are now realising the “steep cost” of China’s economic “friendship” via OBOR when promises of investment go unfulfilled and international standards are ignored.
Such “predatory debt tactics” of China, if left unaddressed, can have serious implications on the US’ military, Dunford warned. Alleging that China is extending its reach by increasing its overt military and coercive activities through its neighbours, Dunford said China’s increasingly provocative behaviour in the Indo-Pacific, particularly the South China Sea (SCS), is a reason to worry for all.
(With inputs from PTI)