“The Belt and Road seems to be faltering in its conceptual financial stage,” said financial writer Peter Guy in the SCMP after Nepal and Pakistan both balked at previously-agreed projects along China’s Belt and Road.
But that conclusion may be too hasty: Pakistani media reported on November 21 that though disagreements have flared up, officials on both sides are moving forward on tens of billions of dollars of deals. Here is a roundup:
- Pakistan rejected the use of Chinese currency in the Gwadar Free Zone, which the Chinese side has pushed in an effort to reduce currency exchange risk and help internationalize the renminbi, Pakistan’s Express Tribune reported.
- But that same report noted “very smooth” progress with ongoing energy projects accounting for 72 percent of China’s $50 billion-plus investment package in the country, according to Pakistan’s Power Secretary Younus Naseem Khokar.
- World Tribune Pakistan noted “consensus” among the parties on beginning a first phase of special economic zones (SEZ) in Pakistan for the petrochemical, steel, textile, leather processing, and machinery industries.
- Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Interior and Planning, Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal, expressed his confidence that the SEZs and other projects would “ensure transfer of technology, knowledge and skills to Pakistan,” according to the Express Tribune.
- “Pakistan and China have narrowed down their differences” on a long-term plan for investment through 2030, Pakistan’s International News summarized.
The bottom line: Pakistan remains optimistic on China’s Belt and Road projects in the country, striking a contrast with how this investment is perceived in media outside of Pakistan.
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