Prime Minister Imran Khan, who arrived in China on Tuesday morning, while addressing an event in Beijing said that he wished he could follow the example of Chinese President Xi Jinping and send 500 corrupt individuals in Pakistan to jail.
Speaking at the China Council for Promotion of International Trade, the premier said that one thing he had learned from China was how the country’s leadership tackled corruption.
“One of President Xi Jinping’s biggest crusade has been against corruption,” he said, adding that he had heard that some 400 “ministerial-level people” had been convicted on charges of corruption and put behind jail in the last five years in China.
Imran was referring to Xi’s ferocious anti-corruption drive launched in 2012 that reportedly netted more than 1.3 million officials at various levels, from the elite to the ordinary.
“I wish I could follow President Xi’s example and put 500 corrupt people in Pakistan in jail,” remarked the premier, saying unfortunately processing [cases] in Pakistan was “very cumbersome”.
He counted corruption as one of the biggest impediments to investment in a country.
Prime Minister Imran said that the most important thing that Pakistan could learn from China was the way it lifted people out of poverty.
“What inspires me most about China is the way they have lifted 700 million people out of poverty in 30 years,” he said. “This has never happened in human history.”
The premier said that since his government had come to power, it had taken a conscious decision to make it easier for investors to come to Pakistan.
“We will want them to make profits in Pakistan.
“The Prime Minister’s Office is driving opportunities for people to invest in our country. The ease of doing business is driven from the Prime Minister’s Office. We have just formed a CPEC Authority because we were having problems in CPEC projects because they were under a lot of different ministries.
“We have now decided that there will be one authority which will resolve all the problems of CPEC, and that authority will be the Prime Minister’s Office, so that my office can make it easier for people investing in Pakistan.”
The premier recounted various steps that Pakistan had taken including the completion of phase one of the Gwadar Free Zone.
He said that there were various reasons for people to invest in Pakistan including its strategic location, its young population and the economic revival taking place in the country — particularly the strides made in the ease of doing business as well as the industrial clusters through special economic zones (SEZs).
Prime Minister Imran named the sectors Pakistan wanted Chinese investment in: Textiles, manufacturing, IT and financial services, physical and technological logistics, tourism and hospitality, food processing and agriculture, housing as well as in oil and gas.
The premier emphasised that now was the time to invest in Pakistan.
“The Prime Minister’s Office will dealing with the major investors in our country and CPEC will be dealt again from the Prime Minister’s Office.
“It’s an exciting time in Pakistan because as we open up our country for business, it is a great opportunity for people to come and invest, and as we change the mindset in Pakistan, we want businesses to come and make money.”
Later, the premier arrived at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing where his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang received him.
According to Radio Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran was presented a guard of honour by a smartly turned out contingent at the official welcome ceremony where the national anthems for both China and Pakistan were played.
The Chinese premier was also introduced to members of the Pakistani delegation.
Earlier, China Gezhouba Group Chairman Lyu Zexiang, among other businessmen, called on the premier.
As per an FO press release, the China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) — one of the most competitive listed companies with very strong financing capabilities in China — showed keen interest in exploring new business avenues in Pakistan particularly in the energy sector.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Khusro Bakhtiar, Chairman Board of Investment Zubair Gillani, Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, Adviser to Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industries, Production and Investment Abdul Razzak Dawood and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar were present in the meeting.
‘Strengthening economic relations’
Later in the day, Foreign Minister Qureshi while talking to media said that Pakistan is trying to further cement bilateral relations with China.
Talking about the interaction with the Chinese business community, the minister said that the Pakistani delegation apprised them about the measures taken for the security of foreigners. He said that the Chinese were informed that Pakistan has raised a special division for their security.
Qureshi noted that the CPEC Authority has also been established to facilitate projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
“We have also talked about incentives for Chinese businessmen in Pakistan,” he said.
He added that Islamabad wants to bring a balance in bilateral trade between the two countries. He expressed the hope that economic connectivity between the two countries will facilitate the region, particularly its land-locked countries.