“Just two weeks later, the Pakistani air force and Chinese officials were putting the final touches on a secret proposal to expand Pakistan’s building of Chinese military jets, weaponry and other hardware. The confidential plan, reviewed by The New York Times, would also deepen the cooperation between China and Pakistan in space, a frontier the Pentagon recently said Beijing was trying to militarise after decades of playing catch-up,” The New York Times reported several days ago. “All those military projects were designated as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a $1 trillion chain of infrastructure development programs stretching across some 70 countries, built and financed by Beijing,” the reporting continued.
“Since the beginning of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, Pakistan has been the program’s flagship site, with some $62 billion in projects planned in the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. In the process, China has lent more and more money to Pakistan at a time of economic desperation there, binding the two countries ever closer,” the reporting added drawing questions about the nature of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
This report comes after Saudi Arabia recently agreed to join CPEC, and Turkey was invited to do the same. “Pakistan highly values its relations with Turkey, and the new government desires to further strengthen relations between Islamabad and Ankara,” said speaker of the Pakistan National Assembly, Asad Qaiser said during a meeting with Turkey’s ambassador in Islamabad in November.
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Chinese Official Denies Claims
“According to our information, the relevant report is not true,” Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesperson Hua Chunying said during her regular briefing held at the ministry when asked about the Maria Abi-Habib report.
Chunying’s attention then moved to the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on CPEC, which took place on December 20th. When asked about potential withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan, “We are willing to make concerted efforts to achieve long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan helping the Afghan people to enjoy peace and stability at an early date.”
When asked about United States President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria she gave the Chinese position of the sovereignty and independence of Syria should be respected, with the people deciding their future.
China along with Russia have used their United Nations (UN) Security Council veto power to prevent the UN from taking actions during the Syrian Civil War.
Examining The Situation
Chunying’s claim of caring about the sovereignty and Syrian citizens deciding their future is a curious statement considering the millions of Uighur Muslims currently in state-sponsored prison camps in China’s Xinjiang province.
Sean Roberts of the Fair Observer details the attempts of ethnic cleansing happening at these camps:
Over the last two years, there has been a flurry of news coverage of the mass human rights abuses targeting Uighurs and other Turkic minorities in China’s northwest Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Initially, reports documented the growing use of cutting-edge technology to monitor the inhabitants of the region, but such stories were quickly eclipsed by the evidence that the state had constructed scores of mass internment camps throughout the region, which held hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and members of other local ethnic groups arbitrarily and indefinitely. While Chinese authorities initially denied the existence of these mass internment camps, they have since acknowledged their existence and characterize them as benign and voluntary “vocational training” centers meant to combat Islamic extremism in the region.
In recent months China has at the center of numerous international scandals including sending undercover Chinese scientists to uncover military secrets, embargo evasions, and fraud accusations. Combined with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s calls to increase the military readiness of the Southern Theater Command, it doesn’t make the equipment being apart of CPEC agreements seem far-fetched.
However, time will dictate how The New York Times responds and if additional reporting will be done by their reporters on the issue.