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Shaukat Aziz leaves for China today

December 14, 2004

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ISLAMABAD, Dec 13: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz will leave for China on Tuesday morning on a four-day visit during which he will conclude agreements on on major projects.

Sources in the Foreign Office told Dawn on Monday that the visit, his first to China as prime minister, would see Mr Aziz call on President Hu Jintao and Premier of the State Council Wen Jiabao.

The prime minister, with an 80-member entourage in tow, would also hold talks with businessmen in Shanghai, China's key industrial and commercial port city, in a hard-sell attempt to persuade them to invest in Pakistan, they said. In November, Mr Aziz undertook a two-day visit to India whose bilateral trade with China rose to $7.6 billion in 2003.

"This visit should be seen as part of continuing high-level exchanges between China and Pakistan. President Pervez Musharraf visited Beijing in November 2003 and, following a meeting with Mr Hu, signed a joint declaration on directions in bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and China.

Former prime minister Zafarullah Jamali spoke at the Boa Forum for Asia in April 2004. As finance minister, Mr Aziz paid a couple of visits to China. All these high-level meetings have resulted in growing Sino-Pakistan economic relations," the sources explained.

Pakistan-China trade (Hong Kong included) stood at $2.17 billion in 2003-04. China's bilateral trade with the United States soared to $180.7 billion in 2003. "China is already involved in a number of development projects in Pakistan, including the Saindak Gold and Copper project, Gwadar deep-sea port, Chashma-II nuclear power plant and Thar coal power generation.

Over 3,000 Chinese nationals are working in Pakistan on these projects," they said. The sources said Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz would also address students at Tsinghua University on Thursday.