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Pak PM Sharif embarks on five-day visit to China: Report

Sharif will be in China from June 4 to 8 at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Last Updated : 04 June 2024, 06:30 IST
Last Updated : 04 June 2024, 06:30 IST

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Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday embarked on a five-day official visit to China aimed at strengthening bilateral ties further as the all-weather allies seek to upgrade cooperation under the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Sharif will be in China from June 4 to 8 at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The 72-year-old leader embarked on his first visit to China after he took over as prime minister for the second term after his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party-led coalition government came to power in March, Geo News reported.

During his visit, Sharif will hold talks with Chinese President Xi and “jointly draw a blueprint” for the growth of China-Pakistan relations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said in Beijing last week.

On Monday, the Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan, Jiang Zaidong, said that under the guidance of two leaders and strong support from the people of both countries, Sharif's visit to China would achieve complete success and become a milestone in the development of China-Pakistan relations.

Highlighting the various components of the visit, he said the prime minister would meet and have talks with Chinese President Xi, Premier Li Qiang and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Zhao Leji.

The leaders will have an in-depth exchange of views on China-Pakistan relations and issues of mutual interest and jointly draw up a blueprint for the growth of bilateral relations, Jiang was quoted as saying by the official Associated Press of Pakistan news agency.

“China stands ready to work with Pakistan through this visit to make greater progress in our all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and take new steps in building an even closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era,” he said.

To advance economic ties between the two countries, the prime minister will meet with corporate executives of leading Chinese companies dealing in oil and gas, energy, ICT (Information and Communications Technology), and emerging technologies, the report said.

Sharif will address the China-Pakistan Business Forum in Shenzhen with leading businesspersons, entrepreneurs, and investors from both countries. He will also visit the Economic and Agricultural Zones in China, it said.

Regarding CPEC, Jiang said the landmark Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project brought a total of USD 25.4 billion in direct investment, 2,36,000 jobs, 510 km of highways, more than 8000 megawatts of electricity and 886 km of core transmission network, generating a strong impetus to Pakistan’s economic and social development.

Sharif's visit aims to increase cooperation under the CPEC project as the two all-weather allies look forward to launching its second phase.

He will undertake discussions with top Chinese officials to further upgrade CPEC and advance trade and investment.

The talks will be held to enhance cooperation in security and defence, energy, space, science and technology, and education sectors, the report said.

The CPEC was launched a decade ago, and several energy and infrastructure projects have already been completed.

India firmly opposes the CPEC, which will link Xinjiang in China and the Gwadar port in Pakistan because it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan's Balochistan with China's Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of China's ambitious multi-billion-dollar BRI. The BRI is seen as an attempt by China to further its influence abroad with infrastructure projects funded by Chinese investments across the world.

His visit will be focused on government-to-government and businessmen-to-businessmen investments in energy and agriculture sectors and Special Economic Zones, the Dawn newspaper quoted Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal as saying.

Sharif’s visit to Beijing, which is always a first stop for Pakistani leaders after taking over power, is taking place as Pakistan is facing a severe economic crisis with foreign exchange reserves continuing to remain at a low level. China is bankrolling Pakistan to maintain the balance of payments with periodic loans to maintain the requisite forex reserves.

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Published 04 June 2024, 06:30 IST

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