BEIJING: China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao welcomes Prime Minister Imran Khan at Beijing Capital International Airport on Thursday.—PPI
BEIJING: China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao welcomes Prime Minister Imran Khan at Beijing Capital International Airport on Thursday.—PPI

BEIJING: Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived here on Thursday on a four-day official visit during which he will join other world leaders attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics scheduled to be held on Friday (today).

Accompanied by a high-level delegation, including federal cabinet members, the prime minister will also meet the Chinese leadership.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Khalid Mansoor are part of the delegation.

On his arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport, the prime minister was received by Assistant Foreign Minister of China Wu Jianghao. Pakistan’s Ambassador in Beijing Moeenul Haq and senior embassy officials were also present.

Besides attending the ceremony of Beijing Winter Olympics, PM Khan will also meet President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. During the meeting, they will discuss the ways of further promoting bilateral trade and economic cooperation, particularly under the CPEC framework, besides regional and international affairs.

Besides virtual interactions with prominent Chinese business leaders, top think tanks, intellectuals and media, other bilateral meetings are also on the prime minister’s agenda of the visit.

The government hopes that PM Khan’s visit will reinvigorate the CPEC project. “Twenty-one different sectors have been identified to be discussed with the Chinese leadership,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had told Dawn on Wednesday after attending a series of meetings chaired by Imran Khan at the Prime Minister House.

The sectors to be discussed during the PM’s visit relate to special economic zones created under CPEC, trade, information technology, agriculture and the relocation of massive Chinese industries to Pakistan.

This is the prime minister’s fourth trip to China as he paid the last visit in October 2019. Prior to his visit, Prime Minister Khan ordered removal of red tape hindering the Chinese investment in Pakistan, besides doing away with 37 regulations to ensure one-window operation for foreign investors.

Pakistan and China supported each other in their fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and pushed forward high-quality development of CPEC. Beijing had invested over $25 billion in Pakistan on CPEC projects generating 80,000 jobs, producing 5500MW of electricity and building over 500km of roads.

Pakistan-China cooperation against the Covid-19 pandemic has remained exemplary. President Dr Arif Alvi visited China in March 2020 to express solidarity with the Chinese people.

Pakistan is one of the earliest supporters and participants of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). As BRI’s flagship project, CPEC complements the Pakistan government’s vision of economic sovereignty.

China’s non-financial direct investment in countries under the BRI reached $17.99bn from January to November 2021, up 12.7 per cent year-on-year despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and gloomy global investment environment.

CPEC is a transformational project. Among 70 early-harvest projects, 46 have been launched or completed with a total investment of $ 25.4bn, creating 80,000 local jobs.

Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2022

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