China vows ‘necessary support’ to ‘all-weather partner’ Pakistan, signs 16 pacts

Pakistan and China signed 16 pacts as China vowed to provide the “necessary support” to the Muslim majority country over its present financial crisis, an official, cited by PTI, stated on Saturday. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is on a four day maiden visit to the country to keep their ‘all-weather‘ ties consistent.

During his visit, Khan is also expected to straighten out differences between the two on the multi-billion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and Islamabad approaching ‘friendly nations’ to avoid a tough IMF bailout package.

While welcoming Khan, China’s Premier Li Keqiang said, “You can say that China and Pakistan are all-weather partners. We have a high-level of political trust and close cooperation in all fields. Pakistan has always been regarded as a foreign policy priority by China. Your visit will further consolidate and develop the firm, enduring ties between our two countries”.

Khan thanked Li and said: “The relationship between the two countries has deepened since then because the CPEC in 2013 was just an idea. Now it is on the ground. And it has caught the imagination of the people of Pakistan”.

Pakistan sees China as a great opportunity to progress, attract investment, he said.

“It gives us an opportunity to raise our standard of living, growth rate. You will see the difference because a lot has happened since 2013. One of the things of course is my party has come into power,” Khan said.

After talks between Khan and Li, officials of both the sides signed 16 agreement in the presence of the leaders.

China will provide “necessary support” to Pakistan to tide over the present financial crisis but declined to reveal the amount, Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou told media after the talks.

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When inquired about the bailout package, he said, “During the visit, the two sides made it clear in principle that Chinese government will provide necessary support for Pakistan to tide over the current difficulties. As for the specific measures to be taken, the competent authorities will have detailed discussion”.

He also said there will be no changes in the USD 60 billion CPEC projects which came under criticism including by some of the Khan’s Cabinet ministers over the increasing debt.

Whether there would be changes in the CPEC projects, Kong stated,“There has been no change in the number of CPEC projects. If there is going to be any, it will be increased going forward”.

He also said more projects relating to “industrial cooperation” will come up in more areas of Pakistan.

“The dimension of the industrial cooperation will be introduced into the CPEC going forward. The CPEC will be introduced to more areas of Pakistan and we are also in favour of areas relating to people’s lives and hence going forward both the areas and the contents of the CPEC will be enriched,” Kong said.

When inquired about the cooperation on counter-terrorism, Kong said: “all areas of cooperation have been covered and we also expressed positive wish for strengthening cooperation”.

China has been placing pressure on Pakistan to crackdown on Uygur militants of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in Xinjiang region from crossing in and out of the province.

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