Recently, a news broke out in Pakistan, saying that Pakistan refuses China to fund the water dam projects in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, which has aroused controversy in both Chinese and foreign media. Some foreign media have used this to discredit the friendship between China and Pakistan and said that Pakistan believes that the conditions offered by China are too strict, while some domestic netizens start to doubt the outlook of the belt and road as Pakistan is always considered to be China’s “iron buddies”.
Chinese and foreign media should stay calm about the news. The Diamer Bhasha Dam is a large investment made by China in Pakistan, involving a total value of 12 billion US dollars. In May 2017, China and Pakistan signed a memorandum of cooperation on water conservancy. Mr. Zafar, former special envoy of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor said that the Diamer Bhasha Dam is initiated by Pakistan independently and China is invited to fund the construction of the project. Thus, this project can only be completed through cooperation between China and Pakistan. No matter how hard it is, Pakistan will strive to complete the project. We must also recognize that the Diamer Bhasha Dam project is a domestic issue of Pakistan, and the problem we are having now is about technology, beneficiary and legal procedures, not like what the foreign media have described.
Recently, Nepal has also canceled the hydropower project in cooperation with China. In my opinion, this kind of thing is natural. Since the proposal of the Belt and Road was put forward, especially after the successful hosting of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation Forum, we have been making solid progress in the building of the belt and road. However, we must also aware of the risks and challenges facing the Chinese government and enterprises in the implementation of the initiative.
The countries along the Belt and Road have different culture, ethnicity and religion. Plus, they also have unbalanced economic development and different market, which have brought us both traditional and non-traditional difficulties. Some countries still lack a proper understanding of the Belt and Road initiative, but that should not shake the confidence and determination in the Belt and Road initiative.
The report of the 19th CPC National Congress pointed out that China upholds the global governance concept of mutual consultation, joint construction and sharing. The Belt and Road Initiative shares the fruits of development among different strata and groups in different countries so that the whole world can enjoy the benefits of global governance. We are working in other people’s backyard and each of them has very different circumstances. Besides, some ill-intentioned people often stirs up troubles and they are over suspicious of the projects initiated by China. Therefore, it is not surprising that some countries along the belt and road start to have doubt.
The most difficult thing is to get started, and the rest will be easier. It is extremely important that we do a good job in the start-up phase, prepare ourselves for the difficulties and battles ahead. We would take all possible risks into consideration, have an excellent top-level design in place to avoid the recurrence of problems encountered by Chinese enterprises in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine.
We should not be upset by the unexpected delay of some projects or the projects that are being rejected. Most of the countries along the Belt and Road are in the period of social transition and thus they are experiencing complicated social contradictions. Plus, some media and countries often place obstacles in the way and consequently, problems will be unavoidable. The Belt and Road project is a huge long-term project that needs to be implemented with unremitting efforts. We must make all preparations for its implementation and respect the opinions of all the participating countries. We should deal with the problems encountered through consultation, not making them more complicated.
By offering capital, technologies and human resource, China has helped some projects greatly, all of which are a manifestation of our sincerity in helping our friends. Infrastructure construction usually requires large amount of investment, has a low rate of return and takes a long time to complete. Some of the participating countries may not have enough fund to get the project started, but China has given them long-term promises and invested a lot of money in the initial stage. In the building of a community of shared future for countries along the Belt and Road, China should take more responsibility so that other countries can understand our sincerity. Sincerity may be temporarily misunderstood, however, it is a test which China has to pass.