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

Gladys Abbott
November 3, 2018

On the first day of his four-day visit to China, Prime Minister Imran Khan met Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) President Jin Liqun and exchanged views on the matters related to economic reforms and financial development.

"It is not targeted against any third party", he said.

Yao Jing, China's ambassador to Pakistan, told reporters in Islamabad on October 27 that Pakistan is expected to receive good news from the visit.

On Thursday, Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar said that Pakistan would not seek rescheduling of about $2.7 billion in Chinese loans due for repayment this year but expected a good economic package, including expansion of the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to another level.

There is no official comment from Beijing yet on the report.

He noted the assistance agreed to by Saudi Arabia, and said that China's support would allow Pakistan to avoid a large International Monetary Fund loan that may attract tough conditionalities which ultimately lead to inflation, squeeze the economy and put additional burden on the people.

Both sides discussed bilateral ties and matters of mutual regional and global interests, and reviewing all aspects of the Pak-China strategic partnership. 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.

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He hailed the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership as a special friendship shaped and developed during a long time of mutual support and close cooperation. "But I would like to say that the CPEC has nothing to do with the territorial dispute and will not influence China's stance on Kashmir", Lu told reporters at a press briefing.

The premier is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar, Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce, Industry and Investment Abdul Razzak Dawood and Chief Minister of Balochistan Jam Kamal.

Pak PM will also attend China's International Import Expo on November 5 in Shanghai during the visit.

Prior to his visit to China, Khan has already traveled to five other countries, an unprecedented move for a Pakistani leader.

"Basically, aside from the contracts that have been agreed and the projects that are moving ahead on the ground, which is the $19 billion worth, everything else is up for grabs as far as they (China) are concerned", Small said.

While that has yet to happen, the sides have begun reassessing some aspects of the Pakistan section of Belt and Road, known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, including scaling back the development of Pakistan's Arabian Sea port of Gwadar.

Xi said the two sides should deepen strategic communication, maintain regular visits and meetings between the two countries' leaders and enhance experience-sharing in the governance of a country.

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