Beijing, Jan 27 (PTI) China has bestowed special awards on the envoys of Pakistan, the Maldives and Sri Lanka for their contribution to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of which the controversial China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a flagship project.

The ambassadors of Pakistan, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Malta, and Bosnia-Herzegovina in China were conferred with Silk Road Super Ambassador Awards in Beijing on January 24, state-run Global Times reported on Sunday.

The BRI which aims to build major infrastructure projects with Chinese investments around the world is modelled on the ancient silk route.

India has protested to China over CPEC as it traverses through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

The huge Chinese investments evoked concerns of debt traps after China acquired Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port on a 99-year lease as part of a debt swap.

Similarly, huge Chinese loans obtained under the previous Abdullah Yameen government stoked similar fears in Maldives. The present government headed by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said it is reviewing the Chinese projects.

Pakistan where China reportedly committed USD 62 billion for various CPEC projects has recently cancelled a power project to reduce debt burden.

CPEC is regarded as the “flagship project” of the BRI, the daily’s report said adding that it covers wide areas, ranging from transportation to industrial zones.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Masood Khalid told the Global Times before the the award ceremony that Pakistan has benefited from the CPEC.

“Our cooperation is very broad and is expanding, so we are happy. We are confident that as we move forward, we will see more tangible progress in our cooperation, “he said.

The Maldives was one of the first countries to join the BRI. Maldives’ Ambassador to China Mohamed Faisal told the daily that in the past four to five years, Maldives has received a lot of development assistance from China and for the future, “I have a very high expectation” of the BRI, he said.

The ‘Silk Road Super Ambassador’ award ceremony was organised by the Silk Road Cities Alliance, Silk Road City Institute and Beijing Belt & Road Cooperative Community.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.