China has welcomed Saudi Arabia’s interest in investing in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the VOA News in Islamabad has reported. When asked if his country was upset by Saudi Arabia’s potential investment in the CPEC projects, China’s deputy Chief of Mission Lijian Zhao said, ‘Not at All’. Zhao further said that ‘Beijing itself had been encouraging Islamabad to engage in investments in CPEC from other countries’.
The Chinese diplomat further said that unlike the misreporting and propaganda in the Western media, the CPEC projects were advancing well at a fast pace, with nine out of 22 projects completed and remaining in the process of completion.
Moreover, Lu Khang, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, recently told reporters that the potential Saudi involvement in the CPEC was a ‘positive factor’. ‘If any other party would like to contribute positive factors to promote the inter-connectivity and prosperity of the region on the basis of consultation, I think this is a positive factor’, Kang said.
These statements also dispel the notion that Pakistan had somewhat risked Chinese outrage by inviting a ‘third party on a bilateral project’. This notion was created because Imran Khan’s PTI government had previously generated confusion surrounding the Saudi role in the project, when the information minister claimed to have invited the Kingdom as a ‘third strategic partner’ in the CPEC.
However, Asad Umar, the country’s finance minister, later clarified his government’s stance suggesting that the Saudis were merely ‘investing’ in the Gwadar Port, which involved establishing a major oil refinery in the port city.
China has also expressed its willingness to work closely with the newly elected PTI government, under PM Imran Khan, suggesting that it was planning to make CPEC projects ‘demand based’, keeping in mind Pakistan’s priorities.