China open to changes in BRI projects

October 1, 2018

TEHRAN - China has expressed its openness to the changes proposed by the new government in Islamabad and “will definitely follow their agenda” to work out a roadmap for BRI projects based on “mutual consultation”, Chinese envoy to Pakistan Ambassador Yao Jing said on Sunday.

“It constitutes a process of discussion with each other about this kind of model, about this kind of roadmap for the future,” the envoy was quoted saying by Reuters, adding that Beijing would only proceed with projects that Islamabad desired. “This is Pakistan’s economy, this is their society.”

Both friendly countries were committed to pressing forward with BRI projects, China’s Foreign Ministry were quoted saying in a Reuters report, in order “to ensure those projects that are already built operate as normal, and those which are being built proceed smoothly”.

According to Pakistani officials, one option is the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model, which would see investors or companies finance and build the project and recoup their investment from cash flows generated mainly by the rail freight business, before returning it to Pakistan in a few decades' time.

Beijing was open to BOT and would “encourage” its companies to invest, the Chinese envoy said.

Pakistan’s new government had wanted to review all Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) contracts. Officials say there are concerns the deals were badly negotiated, too expensive or overly favoured China.

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