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China's premier offers to help end Pakistan energy crisis

Published May 22, 2013 08:36pm


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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang gestures during a joint press conference with unseen Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari at the presidential palace in Islamabad on May 22, 2013. – AFP Photo
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang gestures during a joint press conference with unseen Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari at the presidential palace in Islamabad on May 22, 2013. – AFP Photo

ISLAMABAD: China and Pakistan should make cooperation on power generation a priority, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said, as Islamabad seeks to end an energy crisis that triggers power cuts of up to 20 hours a day, bringing the economy to a near standstill.

Li arrived in the Pakistan capital under extra-tight security on Wednesday on the second leg of his first official trip since taking office in March and after a visit to Pakistan and China’s arch rival, India.

Li’s plane was escorted by six air force fighter jets as it entered Pakistani air space. Security measures also included shutting down mobile phone networks briefly across the city.

Pakistan was one of the first countries to switch diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China, in 1950, and Li told a lunch attended by Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif and President Asif Zardari that China and Pakistan should remain “trustworthy partners.”

Li said there was still “great potential” for the relationship. Bilateral trade last year rose above $12 billion for the first time and both sides are aiming to reach $15 billion in the next two or three years.

“Our two sides should focus on carrying out priority projects in connectivity, energy development and power generation and promoting the building of a China-Pakistan economic corridor,” Li told media.

The power shortages have sparked violent protests and crippled key industries, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs in a country already beset by high unemployment, a failing economy, widespread poverty, sectarian bloodshed and a Taliban insurgency.


The two countries signed a series of cooperation documents covering the economy, culture, and science and technology.

Pakistan and China signed eleven agreements, Memoranda of Understanding and documents to strengthen and diversify cooperation in economy, science and technology, space and upper atmosphere communication and boundary management.

These were signed by officials of the two countries at a ceremony held at the presidency after talks between President Zardari and the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. The two leaders witnessed the signing ceremony.

The agreements include those on economic and technical cooperation, boundary management system, Sino-Pak Border Posts and their Management System, satellite navigation, and establishment of Confucius Institute at Karachi University.

The MoUs signed by the two countries included those on Maritime Cooperation, Cooperation for Long Term Plan on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Cooperation in the field of Marine Science and Technology.

“Both sides have a desire to converge China’s strategy to boost domestic demand and develop its western region and Pakistan’s desire to further deepen its economic development,” Li said after the signing.


There are several joint energy and infrastructure projects under way in Pakistan and China has taken over operation of the strategically important Gwadar port.

When complete, the port, which is close to the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil shipping lane, could open up an economic corridor from the Gulf, across Pakistan to western China, and could be used by the Chinese Navy, upsetting India.

Li this week offered India a “handshake across the Himalayas” and said the world’s two most populous nations could become a new engine for the global economy – if they could avoid friction.

China and India disagree about large areas of their 4,000 km (2,500 mile) border and their troops faced off for three weeks last month on a windswept Himalayan plateau where they fought a brief but bloody war in 1962. Pakistan and India have fought three wars, two of them over disputed Kashmir.

India has responded cautiously to Li’s overtures, partly because of China’s friendship with Pakistan. For its part, Beijing is concerned about India’s growing relations with the United States.

“I wish to reiterate solemnly China’s continued firm support to Pakistan in its efforts to uphold independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Li said in a possible reference to India and to the United States, which angers many with drone strikes targeting militants in Pakistan.

Pakistan is going through a turbulent chapter in its ties with the United States, which plans to withdraw most of its troops from neighbouring Afghanistan in 2014. Many US

officials have questioned Pakistan’s commitment to fighting Islamist militancy since US forces tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden in a garrison town near Islamabad two years ago.

China’s Xinhua state news agency said Beijing was looking for “pragmatic” military cooperation with Pakistan, “which is in the front line of the fight against international terrorism.”

“The military exchanges are not directed against any third party and contribute to peace and stability in both the region and the whole world,” it said in a commentary.

– Mateen Haider contributed to reporting from Islamabad


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Comments (30) Closed

Umwe May 22, 2013 08:56pm

Why we depend on others while we got natural resource we have to train our people to get the natural resources worked and make strong pakistan.

Irfan Mian May 22, 2013 09:29pm

HOW? By taking over.... please do

M K Sufi May 22, 2013 09:45pm

For years we have been hearing about China offer to help overcome our power problem. It is a good omen for the incoming government.

Qamar May 22, 2013 10:28pm

China is named as 'Peoples Republic of China' but it is drifting towards becoming a capitalists republic. Gone are the days when Chinese would do things for Pakistan purely out of friendship. Now they do cool and calm calculations before lending any support to Pakistan. China is still a friend of Pakistan, but it is a 'friends with benefit' relationship.

Lakhkar Khan May 22, 2013 10:30pm

A true friend always stays through thick and thin.

Isadora May 22, 2013 10:43pm

Good. America isn't the powerhouse it used to be and it's good to see countries turning to someone besides the U.S. Perhaps that's been going on for a long time, but, before I came to love Pakistan, I was an Anglophile, so I wouldn't have noticed.

I can't help but think that being more independent and taking new routes might just be good for all of us.

I only hope China doesn't do what most countries seem to do, my own country included. That is, to expect political as well as monetary return.

marghoob ahmed siddiqui May 22, 2013 10:51pm

What Zardari was doing during 5 years he was in power. Was he waiting that this credit must go to Nawaz Shareef. Any way if China can help end of energy crisis it will be more than what one can expect from anyone.

caz May 22, 2013 10:57pm

The statements from the pakistani side simply indicate the deep deep crises pakistan is in. Pakistan will have to bite the bullet of its miscreation in order to find practical solutions to the problems for the unfortunate people who live in it

marghoob ahmed siddiqui May 22, 2013 11:01pm

What was Zardari doing during 5 years when he was ruling? Was he waiting that this credit must go to Nawaz Shareef. Any way it will be a big thing if Pakistan can end this problem.

Awais May 23, 2013 01:03am

Well, according to me, Pakistan nd China going to be together in every aspect in near future nd India nd US either... Lets see who will be more beneficial for whom... fingers crossed

Gohar May 23, 2013 01:30am

We need to broaden the scope of our relations with China and better integrate the economies of the two nations. Rail linkage between the two nations would be a great step in helping to integrate and uplift Northern Pakistan and Western China. More cultural exchange and diversification of our economic exchange should also be pursued more prudently. Pakistan should also broaden the range of its export items to China as well as broaden its own manufacturing industry emulating China's growth of the early 80's. Both countries have much to offer from each other and the comraderie felt between the two countries have stood the test of time!

Suresh Agarwal May 23, 2013 02:37am

It is nice that Chinese are willing to help in the energy crisis. Political payback / support may not be obvious but it is expected (without being too explicit).There is no free lunch.

bhu_kh May 23, 2013 02:37am

From USA to China

bhu_kh May 23, 2013 02:41am

From USA to China

Ronnie Dsouza May 23, 2013 02:56am

@Isadora: Let's be brief, as per track record of China, it's interest will always be MONETARY, rest is SECONDARY, hope Pakistan has enough to offer. Pak-China friendship is they called ALL WEATHER FRIENDS, but I can hardly remember if monetary-wise, China has ever come to the help of Pakistan, except helping a little in military way. China's biggest market is USA and INDIA where they get all the profits

El Cid May 23, 2013 03:04am

China has a secondary financial supporting role in this equation. An economic and defense treaty and firming up of friendship and cooperation with Iran is the primary, pragmatic and rational, answer. Don't let religious bigotry and foreign interference come in the way.

El Cid May 23, 2013 03:19am

@Isadora: Thank you for your generous thought and open mind. You are the kind of fair and warm hearted American that Pakistanis came to admire and considered a friend. Old habits die hard but the Drones are well up to it.

Satyameva Jayate May 23, 2013 04:02am

When Mr. Zardari became President, he said he would be visiting China every three months - to strengthen the friendship. He actually did visits China more than ten times. Every time he went to China or when other ministers visited China, they all signed numerous MoUs. Anyone knows the current status of all those MoUs? How has those helped Pakistan? During all that extensive interaction, was help in Power Sector never discussed? What has changed now?... The current government is only an Interim Government. In the diplomatic protocol these high level visits are neither recommended nor they happen. when Interim Governments are in place. So, why this rush?

minhaj samtio May 23, 2013 04:09am

in gwadar project, thr shuold b given train transact route instead of roads route from gwadar port to other place of pakistan. railway transact is more beneficient thn road transact like as: 1. security concern. 2. friendly environment. 3. low transact cost. 4. huge investment in railway of pakistan.

riaz May 23, 2013 04:20am

Why the hack you call it the presidential palace. Is the President in Pakistan is the king of Pakistan? Why don

Whatasilliness May 23, 2013 05:52am

All the Pakistani posters here are talking about comradarie, cultural exchange between China and Pakistan....but forgetting the ground realities that China is valuing its trade with India over the so called deep friendship with Pakistan. Just an observation.

Akil AKhtar May 23, 2013 06:17am

@Umwe: lAgree. argest coal reserves in Sindh, billions of dollar worth of gold in balochistan but someone is stopping us from exploiting them. That is what the people shoudl be asking their leaders about.

Fiona May 23, 2013 07:16am

Pakistan is a good friend in my mind , also same to most chinese

bhukh May 23, 2013 07:40am

@Isadora: should avoid jumping from fry pan to fire...

Shahid Hussain Khokhar May 23, 2013 07:55am

It is very positive gesture from Chinese Premier to assist Pakistan to overcome problems in various sectors specifically economy and energy. China is the most important country for Pakistan "a friend of all seasons". But Pakistan has two regional security problems (i) India (ii) Afghan & Pakistani taliban. This world is economic world, the countries are focusing more on economies. That's why Pakistan and India should come closer in terms of economies rather than defense competition. If both country maintain peace in the region, Insha Allha many other problems will also be solved for both countries specially Pakistan.

pay day loans May 23, 2013 08:27am

But at that place are some loans which are sanctioned afterwards charging additional fees and it is not justifiableThus in footing and conditions that see - You must be a authentic subject of US.

zaheer May 23, 2013 11:46am

First of all, please note that that the house on the hill in Islamabad is President House, it is not Presidential palace!! - As a Pakistani, albeit an ex-pat, as far as I know Pakistan is a republic and not a monarchy. The second point I want to raise is that the article starts with China's cooperation in the areas of power generation, Gwadar port and economic corridor but without going into any details of how and when - and then abruptly moves into unrelated territory i.e. China's and Pakistan's wars with India, and the ever present American concerns with regard to Pakistan's war on terror and India's wariness about Pakistan's relationship with China etc. We see and read all of this every day in this part of the world, hence one hopes and likes to see that a Pakistani reporter reporting on the visit of the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Pakistan will write and talk about the matters of mutual concern,cooperation and the all-weather friendship between the peoples and the governments of two sovereign countries. Third point,if Mr. Zardari is not in the picture, then why must you mention "unseen" Pakistani President Zardari? it does not make any sense-does it?

Ash Mirza May 23, 2013 11:52am

@Gohar: MR. Gohar I agree with you, Pakistan can learn a lot from China. Pakistani must take an example of China. People in china are very hard working, and they help each other and also they love CHINA. Also Pakistani learn the language and go for further study to china. It will help a lot. Sincerely, Ash Mirza (USA)

El Cid May 23, 2013 02:42pm

@Fiona: Thank you for your friendship and trust.

S.H.zaidi May 23, 2013 03:03pm

@Umwe: We have everything but our leaders lack honesty. The previous government broke all records of corruption. IPPS and RPPs projects were riddled with corruption. What would China do in the energy sector that Pakistan cannot do on its own? Similarly, if Pakistan can manage karachi and Qasim ports, why can't it manae Gwadur? And as long as we have greedy and corrupt, incompetent leadership, problems will remain, whoever 'manages' Gwadur. They first need to put their own house in order, before expecting mircales from others! But is this a tall order for the rentier ruling class?