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Saturday, June 8, 2024

Pakistan and China Reaffirm CPEC Commitment

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Xi Jinping reaffirmed their commitment to high-quality development of CPEC, emphasizing economic reform, regional connectivity, and mutual security during their meeting in Beijing.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, marking the first meeting between the two leaders since Shehbaz assumed office in 2024. The discussions reaffirmed their commitment to the high-quality development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the timely completion of ongoing projects. Both leaders emphasized upgrading CPEC and advancing its second phase.

The prime minister briefed President Xi on Pakistan’s policies focused on economic reform, industrial development, agricultural modernization, and regional connectivity. He highlighted CPEC’s critical role in Pakistan’s development, asserting Pakistan’s dedication to aligning the development strategies of both nations through close coordination.

Historical Ties and Strategic Partnership

During the meeting, Prime Minister Shehbaz thanked President Xi for the warm welcome and recalled President Xi’s historic visit to Pakistan in 2015, which marked the formal launch of CPEC and a new chapter in bilateral relations. The encounter was characterized by the traditional warmth reflective of the ironclad friendship and close strategic ties between Pakistan and China.

The leaders reaffirmed the “All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership” and expressed their resolve to deepen cooperation across diverse domains, including political, security, economic, trade, and people-to-people exchanges. They also discussed regional and global developments, particularly the situations in Afghanistan, Palestine, and Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), reiterating their longstanding support for each other’s core interests.

Commitment to CPEC and Security

Commending President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Global Development Initiative (GDI), Prime Minister Shehbaz underscored that CPEC, as the flagship project of BRI, had significantly contributed to Pakistan’s socio-economic development. He reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to ensuring the safety and security of Chinese nationals, projects, and institutions in Pakistan, aligning with the concept of ‘shared prosperity’ embraced by China.

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President Xi hosted a banquet in honour of Prime Minister Shehbaz, where further discussions on matters of mutual interest took place. Both leaders agreed to protect CPEC from detractors and adversaries, underscoring the importance of joint efforts to maintain the momentum of the project.

Economic Challenges and Future Prospects

Prime Minister Shehbaz’s visit to China comes ahead of crucial talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as Pakistan seeks a new loan to support its economy. With the government expected to request at least $6 billion under a new IMF programme, the $27 billion Pakistan owes China plays a central role in these discussions.

China has been Pakistan’s largest creditor, with loans surpassing those from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Chinese investments in Pakistan, amounting to $14 billion since the inception of CPEC in 2013, have primarily focused on energy and logistics infrastructure, crucial for Pakistan’s economic stability and growth.