Special Assistant to the P.M. on Information urges Pakistani media to help counter propaganda against China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
China’s state-run press agency, Xinhua, has been portraying a positive image of Pakistan globally, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Thursday, urging local media to play a similar role for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
Addressing a ceremony to sign Memorandums of Understanding between Xinhua and local media organizations, Awan said the Chinese company published over 1,400 positive stories about Pakistan every year. She said the press agency had been actively disseminating news from Pakistan for over 60 years, adding this had played a significant role in promoting China-Pakistan friendship and bilateral relations.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is valued at over $62 billion and covers a wide range of infrastructure projects throughout Pakistan. In addition to improving transportation networks, it also seeks to resolve Pakistan’s energy crisis and boost the country’s job creation. While hailed in Pakistan, it has attracted controversy globally, with analysts labeling it a “debt trap,” and pointing to the high value of China’s loan to Pakistan—6 percent of the country’s GDP. U.S. diplomat Alice Wells last month warned CPEC would profit Beijing at the expense of Islamabad and would push Pakistan into greater debt, prompting Pakistan’s Foreign Office to issue a statement stressing that Islamabad would not get drawn into disputes between China and the U.S.
Awan on Thursday said greater media cooperation between Pakistan and China would help counter such negative propaganda about CPEC, adding this was essential for the successful implementation of CPEC projects. She said “enemies’ designs” against the Belt and Road Initiative could not be defeated without the help of media, adding that any negative coverage could harm the project and shake the confidence of investors. The media should serve as a true ambassador of Pakistan to ensure the success of CPEC, she added.
Awan made no reference to ministers from within the PTI who had last year claimed CPEC deals would be re-examined, warning that they could be cancelled outright if they did not aid Pakistan. The statements were withdrawn after China President Xi Jinping met Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.
The de facto information minister also appreciated Xinhua for launching an Urdu-language service, noting it was one of 12 languages the agency offered. “It is heartening to note that Xinhua has active collaboration/subscription with over 20 media houses in Pakistan,” she added.