Published: Sat, November 03, 2018
Money | By Wilma Wheeler

China promises Pakistan support as Khan tells of 'very difficult' economy

China promises Pakistan support as Khan tells of 'very difficult' economy

Last month, Pakistan received a $6 billion rescue package from Saudi Arabia, but officials say it is not enough and the country still plans to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to avert a balance of payments crisis. The project is meant to modernise Pakistani infrastructure and bolster the country economy by building various transportation networks, energy projects and special economic zones.

The CPEC has also become a major irritant in India-China relations with New Delhi voicing its opposition to the infrastructure project as it traverses through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

The Prime Minister said China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had given a great opportunity to Pakistan to bring in foreign investment and to get out of the hard economic situation it was facing.

Mr Khan's visit evoked considerable interest in China as it comes in the wake of his past criticism of the United States dollars 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects and remarks by his ministers to cut down some of the projects over debt concern.

"In 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that it is only by respecting the autonomy of countries involved, there can be regional connectivity and avoid differences and disorientation". Khan had initially vowed to curb borrowing, but has proceeded with projects such as one to build 5 million public housing units and has predicted that Pakistan would soon overcome its economic woes.

Xi appreciated Khan for repeatedly stressing that he would view the relations with China as a political cornerstone in Pakistan's foreign policy and would unswervingly promote the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Greeted by Xi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Khan said he had come to "learn" from China's experiences in combatting poverty and corruption.

Agreements were also signed between Higher Education of Pakistan and Science Academy of China and between Chinese Academy of Science and Pakistan Metrological Department.

The minister said: "Cooperation in agriculture and security realm will be part of our discussion with the Chinese leadership".

Mr Khan's visit to China will provide an "opportunity" for the two countries to open a "new chapter" of bilateral relations "under the new circumstances", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Monday.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan and Pakistan Ambassador to China Masood Khalid were also present during the meeting. He further said that India's objection would not change China's position on the Kashmir issue.

"Khan's trip is important for reasons beyond the immediate financing needs", Uzair Younus, a South Asia director at Washington-based consultancy Albright Stonebridge Group LLC, said by email.

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