China contradicts Paks claim to run Gwadar port

Beijing: China on Tuesday contradicted Pakistan`s claim that it has "acceded" to its request to take over the operations at the strategic deep-sea Gwadar port in Balochistan.

Denying that the issue figured during the recent visit of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani here, Chinese Foreign Ministry, spokesperson, Jiang Yu said, "Regarding that specific cooperative project, I have not heard of it. It`s my understanding that during the visit last week this issue was not touched upon."

Asked whether she was denying that any agreement was reached on this she said "as far as I know, the topic was not brought up during the visit last week".

Jiang`s comments contradicted assertions made by Pakistan Defence Minister, Ahmad Mukhtar in Islamabad that "Chinese government has acceded to Pakistan`s request to take over operations at Gwadar port as soon as the terms of agreement with the Singapore Port Authority (SPA) expire".

Mukhtar accompanied Gilani during the just concluded visit. Pakistan`s official APP news agency quoted Mukhtar as saying that Pakistan appreciated that the Chinese government agrees to run the port, but would be more grateful "if a naval base is constructed at the site of Gwadar for Pakistan."

Commenting on Pakistan Minister`s remarks Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asia Studies at the state run Shanghai Institute of International Studies, said "Pakistan`s hope of cooperation with China in building a naval base is nothing but a proposal."