China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has always been criticised by Western Media as a “Debt Trap” and “Neo-Colonialism”. Is that true?

Clarifying the debt-trap allegations on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Shaukat Aziz, Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, believes the BRI is a mutually beneficial way of promoting the development of both Countries while attending the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on Friday.

News Reporter talked to Mr. Shaukat Aziz, for more on his insights about the think tank exchanges between China and Pakistan and his opinions on the Belt and Road Initiative.

Reporter: “The BRSN, Belt and Road Studies Network, has been established. And President Xi Jinping has also sent a congratulatory letter, emphasising the importance the think-tank played under the Belt and Road Initiative. What’s your response to that? And how do you think the significance of the network?”

Mr. Aziz: “First of all, I am a great believer in communicating with different state holders in any situation. The Belt and Road is a very interesting concept and, in my view, its a positive development for many countries including Pakistan. And basically, the way I look at Belt and Road is connectivity.

Connectivity at a global level, meaning trade, services, financial transactions, whatever it is. The Belt and Road concept provides a platform for better connectivity. Now that can manifest itself on road connections, air connections, sea connections, and digital connections because digital now is a big part of our ecosystem.”

Reporter: “And during the thematic forum on think-tank exchanges, you have also made an inspiring speech, what are the key points for us to work together in promoting think-tank cooperation?

Mr. Aziz: “Think-tanks like to think, and it analyses, it researches, and one must always try to see what’s coming down the line. Doesn’t mean you have to do everything, doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but I think it really opens minds up to the world.”

Reporter: “You have already witnessed the cooperation between China and Pakistan, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, is referred to as a flagship project in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Gwadar Port remains the initiative’s flagship site. What specific benefits have the Belt and Road Initiative brought to local Pakistani people through construction projects at the port?

Mr. Aziz: “The infrastructure is able of growth. I think the concept is fantastic. We are heading to a right direction. For China and Pakistan, this will be a real model that you with the port, you will use that port for a lot of areas, so a lot of opportunities which can be created.

Reporter: “There is still some discord over the Belt and Road Initiative since it was put forward. Some western media and analysts have doubts about the initiative, calling it a “Debt Trap” and “Neo-Colonialism”. What do you say in response?”

Mr. Aziz: “No. Not at all, I don’t think it’s a debt trap. The BRI is a way to get better performance from your assets which are there and assets which you require from a marketplace or new ideas can be created, BRI is an able of growth, BRI is a mechanism to improve quality of life of your people of the country.

President Xi initiatives and he is now making much more sort of a bigger project a more serious one, and it attracting the attention of the whole world.”