Beijing: China's official media on Tuesday played down the growing criticism within Pakistan over the USD 46 billion CPEC, saying the project has made "remarkable progress" though India has opted for "disrupting" the initiative.
"Three years on, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), described by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a "game changer" for the entire region, has entered into full implementation in 2016 and remarkable progress has been achieved," a commentary in the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
Referring to Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong's comments, it said 16 early harvest projects, including several power stations, highways and projects related to Gwadar Port, were under construction and tens of thousands of new jobs have been created for local people.
Last month, China started operating the Gwadar Port which is being connected with Xinjiang through the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) by dispatching ships loaded with goods brought by trucks from China to Middle East.
"There are at least 39 projects, (in CPEC) the majority of them related to energy, where obvious progress has been seen during 2016," Saeed Chaudhry, director of the Islamabad Council for International Affairs, told Xinhua in a recently.
Chaudhry's remarks include the second phase of upgrading the Karakorum Highway from Havelian to Thakot and the highway linking Pakistan's largest cities of Karachi and Lahore.
Both of the two highways have been smoothly implemented and for the former, the Abbottabad Tunnel construction project has begun and seen substantive progress, it said.
While Xinhua report lauded the progress of the CPEC, an article in the state-run 'Global Times' criticised sections of Pakistani media for taking a critical view of the project.
Written by a research fellow in the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), the article criticised Pakistani journalist Cyril Almeida for putting out "irresponsible tweets" against the project.
"There is no denying the fact that there has been criticism of CPEC in Pakistan. There has been criticism of the government of Pakistan, mainly of the ruling party, over the percentage of shared routes of CPEC in Pakistan," it said.
"Every province wants to get the most out of it. It is like fighting over a cake before eating it. But even then, no political party ever raised objections against China. Rather, if there is one country over which Pakistan's political parties are united, it is China. The fight among the political parties is 'over CPEC' and 'not against CPEC'," it said.
The report also said it was "undeniable" that there have been controversies over CPEC and particularly, on the 'Belt and Road Initiative' of China.
"Those controversies, which are created at the international level, are an effort to raise doubts about China's intensions. India and the US do not seem to be happy with Beijing's growing regional and global economic clout.
India openly opposed the Belt and Road Initiative and CPEC. It opted for both overt and covert means to disrupt the smooth advancement on these two projects, which are complimentary to each other," it said.
"There is a whole range of challenges in implementing CPEC
that if not smartly dealt with, the road to CPEC success would become bumpy. All these challenges come with external strings attached," it said.
The story of Almeida's twitter spat with Zhao Lijian, charge d'affaires at the Chinese embassy in Islamabad provided fodder to "malign" Pakistan-China relations, it said.
"Pakistan and China have to build a united front through institutional framework to counter this negative campaign. Both countries also need to focus on formulating public opinion, which implies cooperation with news agencies and networks," it said.