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Beijing links aid to more negotiations

November 04, 2018

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BEIJING: Pakistani and Chinese officials shake hands and exchange documents during a ceremony also attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People on Saturday.—AFP
BEIJING: Pakistani and Chinese officials shake hands and exchange documents during a ceremony also attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People on Saturday.—AFP

BEIJING: China will provide necessary assistance to Pakistan to steer the country out of the current economic crisis but more talks are needed on the details of such assistance, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said on Saturday following the meeting of Prime Minister Imran Khan with his counterpart Li Keqiang.

Speaking to reporters at the Great Hall of the People after the talks, the vice foreign minister said his country would help. Mr Kong said: “During the visit the two sides have made it clear in principle that the Chinese government will provide necessary support and assistance to Pakistan in tiding over the current economic difficulties.

“As for specific measures to be taken, the relevant authorities of the two sides will have detailed discussions,” he explained.

Pakistan received a commitment of $6 billion package from Saudi Arabia last month, but officials say it is not enough and the country will have to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund to avert a balance of payments crisis, as Pakistan’s foreign reserves now stand at about $8 billion, or less than two months of import cover.

Speaking after PM Imran’s talks with Premier Li, Chinese vice foreign minister says there are no plans to scale back CPEC

Just a day before holding talks with his Chinese counterpart, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping said he had inherited “a very difficult economic situation” at home.

His recently elected government sought to amend the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project to put greater emphasis on projects that focus on socio-economic development rather than purely on infrastructure.

Mr Kong, however, said there were no plans to scale back the economic corridor. He made it clear that there would be no change in number of projects under the CPEC. “There is no change at all. If there were, it would only be to increase, not decrease” the number of projects, he added.

He said the scope of the project would increase and would “tilt in favour of people’s livelihoods”.

Earlier media reports said Pakistan expected a $6 billion package of aid, including loans and additional investment for CPEC, from the all-weather friend China. But the issue did not come up in opening remarks between the two leaders, Mr Khan and Mr Li.

The Chinese premier said the former cricket star’s visit would “further consolidate and develop the firm, enduring ties between our two countries”. Mr Khan said that CPEC had evolved from the concept stage to showing tangible results “on the ground” that have “caught the imagination of the people of Pakistan”.

“We feel that this is a great opportunity for our country to progress, to attract investment. It gives us an opportunity to raise our standard of living (and) growth rate,” Mr Khan said.

The prime minister invited the Chinese premier to visit Pakistan and see for himself the difference the mega project had brought to his country. “CPEC in 2013 was just an idea. Now it is on the ground. And it has caught the imagination of the people,” he said.

Mr Li said: “China and Pakistan are all-weather partners. Pakistan has always been regarded as a foreign policy priority by China.”

The leadership of Pakistan and China underscored their commitment for a stronger strategic cooperative partnership and explore new avenues for practical collaboration.

Earlier on his arrival at the Great Hall of the People, PM Khan was received in an elegant and warm welcome ceremony where he inspected the guard of honour. The national anthems of both the countries were also played.

The bilateral meeting was marked by traditional warmth, mutual understanding and trust.

Mr Li later held a banquet in the honour of PM Khan and his entourage.

PM meets NPC chairman

The prime minister also met National Peoples Congress Chairman Li Zhanshu at the Great Hall of People in Beijing.

The National People’s Congress is the supreme organ of state power in China. It comprises NPC deputies, who are elected from 35 electoral units from the People’s congress of provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities and others.

The prime minister was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi and Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal.

The two sides discussed matters of mutual interest.

Mr Khan, who is on a four-day visit to China, will soon leave for Shanghai where he is set to be a keynote speaker at a major import fair — an event that China hopes will show the world the country welcomes foreign companies and their products.

PM Khan also laid a wreath containing the Pakistan’s national flag-themed floral arrangement at the Monument to the Peoples Heroes here to pay tribute to the fallen heroes of the revolutionary struggle of China.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2018

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