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New Delhi: China will continue to support Pakistan as it tries to stabilise its financial situation, state media quoted President Xi Jinping as saying on Wednesday, November 2, during a visit by Pakistan‘s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Beijing.
Sharif, who arrived in Beijing on November 1 on a two-day official visit, was one of the first leaders to meet Xi since he secured in October a third term as leader of the ruling Communist Party.
According to News International, during a meeting with Sharif, Xi assured continued financial support to Pakistan, including the Mainline-1 railway and the Karachi Circular Railway project, which come under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The two leaders reaffirmed their mutual commitment to the CPEC and agreed the project is of strategic importance, the report added.
Prime Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif met Chinese President Xi Jinping. Both leaders discussed mutual cooperation in all areas of bilateral relations, especially #CPEC projects and agreed to further strengthen strategic partnership.#PMShehbazinChina pic.twitter.com/NdKp6nmkXW
— Prime Minister’s Office (@PakPMO) November 2, 2022
China and Pakistan should accelerate the construction of infrastructure for the Gwadar Sea Port, Xi told Sharif during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People, Reuters reported.
The developments and projects in Pakistan, a longtime Chinese ally, are part of Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative to improve China’s road, rail and sea routes with the rest of the world.
Sharif also thanked Xi for China’s invaluable assistance to Pakistan’s relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the wake of the devastating floods, which caused it an estimated $30 billion or more in losses.
They also discussed that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan would promote regional security and economic development and agreed that CPEC’s extension to Afghanistan would strengthen regional connectivity initiatives.
According to the Express Tribune, Sharif invited Chinese companies to invest in the government’s solar power project aimed at generating 10,000-megawatt electricity.
Leading Chinese companies accept PM’s offer to invest in Pakistan’s solar, infrastructure projects #APPNews #PMShehbazinChina#PakPMInChina @PakPMO @Marriyum_A @MFA_China https://t.co/eqqHrbmpGG pic.twitter.com/3GgoYbIJuE
— APP 🇵🇰 (@appcsocialmedia) November 2, 2022
China said that it is willing to deepen cooperation with Pakistan in areas including the digital economy, e-commerce, photovoltaic and other new energy sources, Reuters reported.
Pakistan had been struggling with a balance of payments crisis even before devastating floods hit the country this summer.
It was expected to seek debt relief from China, particularly the rolling over of bilateral debt of around $23 billion.
China’s central bank and the National Bank of Pakistan have signed a memorandum of cooperation recently for the establishment of RMB clearing arrangement in Pakistan, in a bid to facilitate the use of RMB for cross-border transactions by enterprises and financial institutions in both countries, Reuters reported, citing the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).
On Tuesday, Indian external affairs minister S. Jaishankar reiterated India’s opposition to the Belt and Road Initiative, pointedly noting that any connectivity project should respect the territorial integrity of nations and international law – a reference to the CPEC passing through areas of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
(With inputs from Reuters)