November 3, 2022
ISLAMABAD – China will continue to support Pakistan in stabilising its financial situation, state media quoted China’s President Xi Jinping as saying on Wednesday.
China and Pakistan should move forward more effectively with the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as well as accelerate the construction of infrastructure for the Gwadar Sea Port, state media reported Xi as saying.
The Chinese president made the remarks in a meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, during which the two leaders agreed to strengthen the strategic partnership between Islamabad and Beijing, as well as multilateral cooperation in various areas, including the CPEC.
The bilateral consensus between the two leaders was reached as PM Shehbaz called on Xi at the People’s Great Hall of China.
During the meeting, the Chinese president and PM Shehbaz discussed “broad-based cooperation in economy and investment and exchanged views on regional and global developments”.
Xi said that the countries should work together to create conditions for the early implementation of the Mainline-1 railway upgrading project and the Karachi Circular Railway project.
China welcomes Pakistan to expand high-quality agricultural exports to the country, and is willing to deepen cooperation in areas including the digital economy, e-commerce, photovoltaic and other new energy sources, Xi said.
China will also export technology for a 160 km/h high-speed railway train to Pakistan, state broadcaster CCTV said.
Separately, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said it has signed a memorandum of cooperation with the National Bank of Pakistan recently for the establishment of RMB clearing arrangement in Pakistan, in a bid to facilitate the use of RMB for cross-border transactions by enterprises and financial institutions in both countries.
PM invites Chinese to invest in energy projects
Later in the day, PM Shehbaz invited Chinese investment for the government’s 10,000 megawatts solar and other renewable energy projects, the Prime Minister’s Office said, adding that the offer received an encouraging response.
PM Shehbaz, who landed in Beijing on a two-day visit last night, had given approval for the execution of the solar project in September as part of measures to reduce the import bill.
He met Chinese investors and businessmen today and besides seeking investment for the solar energy project, he encouraged Chinese investment in other renewable energy projects, including wind power turbines.
“Leading Chinese companies have […] shown a keen interest to invest in Pakistan’s solar, water and other infrastructure projects,” the PMO statement said.
The prime minister expressed regret over “the obstacles faced by Chinese companies in the past on matters pertaining to payments on imported coal”.
He assured the businessmen and investors that his government had resolved several issues faced by them since assuming power in April.
Pending dues worth Rs160 billion had been cleared and a payment of Rs50bn was made yesterday, the PMO quoted him as saying.
Moreover, the premier said a revolving fund having Rs50bn seed money had been established by the State Bank of Pakistan on the directives of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
Regarding other projects, the PM stressed the early completion of the Gwadar international airport and was assured by Chinese companies that the project would be completed by the start of next year.
The premier also resolved to address issues pertaining to the acquisition of land for the Diamer-Bhasha Dam and hurdles in the completion of the Mohmand Dam project on a priority basis.
He expressed the federal and Sindh government’s willingness to collaborate with Chinese companies for addressing the water shortage in Karachi.
PM Shehbaz thanked Chinese companies for taking a “special interest” in Pakistan’s development projects, particularly the Gwadar port and Main Line-1 railway track.
He expressed confidence that “strong business and investment linkages between Pakistan and China will lead to further cementing of bilateral relations,” the PMO said.
PM Shehbaz assured the businessmen and investors of foolproof security for Chinese personnel working in Pakistan, especially those working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“Across-the-board security will be ensured for those deputed on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project and other joint initiatives,” the PMO statement quoted him as saying, adding that he also extended condolences over the deaths of Chinese men and women who had lost their lives while working in Pakistan.
PM Shehbaz concluded the meeting by expressing gratitude for the “generous support” extended by China in the wake of massive floods in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed his delight at the memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed during the “highly productive” visit.
“These MoUs would provide a framework to further enhance cooperation between our two sides across various fields,” he tweeted.
Agreement to expand CPEC
The prime minister also met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang wherein the two sides agreed to expand CPEC besides ensuring the early completion of its already initiated projects.
In the meeting, both leaders discussed bilateral matters as well as ways to strengthen mutual cooperation.
The two sides also held delegation-level talks headed by the respective two leaders.
PM Shehbaz later departed for Pakistan after wrapping up his trip.
Maiden visit as PM
This is PM Shehbaz’s first official visit to China since he became premier in April. He is heading a high-level delegation, including federal ministers, special assistants as well as the Sindh chief minister.
The premier is among the first world leaders to visit China following the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China that re-elected Xi as the party’s general secretary last month.
Prior to his departure to Beijing on Tuesday, PM Shehbaz had explained that the trip was aimed at revitalising the ambitious CPEC, seeking investment in various sectors in Pakistan and increasing bilateral trade.
He had tweeted that during his visit, he would hold discussions with the Chinese leadership on the strengthening of bilateral relations, particularly the revitalisation of the multi-billion-dollar CPEC project. The second phase of the project promised to usher in a new era of socio-economic progress that would uplift the quality of people’s lives, he had added.
“There is a lot to learn from Chinese economic miracle,” the premier had said.
During the trip, the premier will also meet his Chinese counterpart, Premier Li Keqiang, on whose invitation he is in Beijing.