Islamabad [Pakistan]: A Pakistan media report has raised concern over one of the provisions of the Long-Term Plan (LTP 2017-30) of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, finalised by the seventh Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting – Beijing’s demand to allow its currency, the Yuan, to be used in the Gwadar Free Zone under the CPEC framework.
The JCC is the highest decision-making body of CPEC.
Quoting that “the CPEC plan raises far more questions than it answers,” Khurram Husain, a leading business and economy journalist in Pakistan, in an article titled ‘China’s Road Through Pakistan’ for the Dawn, propounds the idea of making the LTP public to prevent few pertinent questions from clouding the overall positive prospects that the CPEC has for Islamabad.
“Nobody outside a small circle had heard of this proposal to bring the Chinese currency as legal tender in Pakistan. It is not mentioned in any public pronouncement, not on the CPEC website, not in any of the minutes of the JCC meetings held thus far, not in the LTP finalised in December 2016 at the sixth JCC and not in the shorter summary of that document circulated to the provinces in March of 2017,” the article stated.
The author further wondered why the Chinese were interested in making the Yuan legal tender only in Gwadar and not across Pakistan.
“Why are the Chinese interested in making the Yuan legal tender in Gwadar? What purpose does such a step serve, and how are Pakistan’s interests advanced by it? If this is about helping make the yuan an international currency, which is a major policy priority for China, then why only ask for it to be legal tender in Gwadar? Why not all of Pakistan?” Husain asked.
It was reported two days back that Pakistan had turned down China’s demand to allow its currency to be used in the Gwadar Free Zone, arguing any such move would compromise its ‘economic sovereignty’.
Pakistan conveyed its final position on the use of the foreign currency in its territory to the Chinese authorities during the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM), the Express Tribune reported, which was held a day before the 7th meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC).
To this end, Husain, in the article, said if the JCC were told ‘no’ a few months ago, and returned to press the demand again, they might as well return a few months later and press harder.
“Or is the ‘no’ they have been given this time final? Has this been raised in any of the previous JCC meetings?” he further questioned.
Husain then went on to wonder about the ferocity with which China pressed for the proposal, and the arguments it must have advanced, bringing him to ask the conclusive details about the project – if it was turned down or under consideration, or perhaps, ‘turned down for now but to be considered later’.
The JCC on Tuesday formally approved the LTP of the CPEC project at a signing ceremony held here after the conclusion of 7th JCC meeting.
The agreement was signed between the senior officials of Pakistan and China, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal told media in a press talk after the meeting. (ANI)