A top US diplomat for South Asia said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor -- heralded as a game-changer by both Asian countries -- would profit only Beijing and said that the United States offered a better model.
'It's clear, or it needs to be clear, that CPEC is not about aid,' said Ms. Alice Wells, the acting assistant secretary of state for South Asia.
She noted that the multibillion-dollar initiative was driven by non-concessionary loans, with Chinese companies sending their own labor and materials.
'CPEC relies primarily on Chinese workers and supplies, even amid rising unemployment in Pakistan,' Ms. Wells said at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
The corridor 'is going to take a growing toll on the Pakistan economy, especially when the bulk of payments start to come due in the next four to six years,' she said.
'Even if loan payments are deferred, they are going to continue to hang over Pakistan's economic development potential, hamstringing Prime Minister (Imran) Khan's reform agenda,' she said.
The US has gone on the offensive against China's Belt and Road Initiative, a signature project of President Xi Jinping which aims to build ports, highways and railways around the world.
But Ms. Wells' speech was unusually specific in warning of risks to Pakistan, a historic ally of the US which has had a turbulent relationship with Washington in recent years over Islamabad's shady ties with Islamist militants.