URUMQI: President Asif Ali Zardari and Chinese Executive Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday agreed to further bolster the existing close and multi-faceted strategic ties between the two countries through enhanced cooperation in diverse fields, with particular focus on trade, energy, communication, infrastructure development and agriculture sectors.
Zardari and China’s Executive Vice Premier, who met here on the eve of the first China-Eurasia Expo, besides discussing in detail the whole range of bilateral relations as well as ways and means to further strengthen these ties, also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual interest.
During the meeting, the President was assisted by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Dr Asim Hussain, Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah, Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Chaudhary Abdul Majeed, Chairman of Board of Investment Salim H.Mandviwala, President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Senator Haji Ghulam Ali, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Masood Khan and Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar.
Farhatullah Babar told the media that the Chinese Executive Vice Premier appreciated President Zardari’s gesture of bringing with him the Chief Minister of Gilgit Baltistan and welcomed him to the meeting.
President Zardari described China as Pakistan’s closest friend and a strategic partner as a high level of trust existed between the leadership and people of the two countries and that the political parties, state institutions and people of Pakistan considered China as the lifeline for their country.
He recalled the visit of Premier Wen Jiabao to Pakistan in December 2010 as a heart warming event and expressed satisfaction over the progress in Pakistan-China political, defence, security and economic co-operation, with determination to take it to ‘new heights’.
The President also appreciated Ambassador Masood Khan for his role in further strengthening the Pak-China ties and described him as Pakistan’s most important ambassador in the world.
Zardari sought Chinese investment in Pakistan’s water and energy related mega projects, including Thar coal gasification for electricity generation and hydro-power projects.
He expressed his confidence that the Pak-China Joint Energy Working Group, the first meeting of which was held recently, would find new ways to make and implement long-term plans for conventional, renewable and nuclear energy cooperation between the two countries.
Zardari in this respect also proposed setting up of an umbrella corporation under energy cooperation mechanism called ‘Pakistan China Power Corporation’. The corporation would include specialists and entities from all fields – conventional and alternate.
He noted with satisfaction the increase in bilateral trade volume by $ 2 billion to $ 8.7 billion, which depicted the overall growth of 28 per cent and added that since the current trade did not commensurate with the close and strategic ties there was a need to take steps to meet the target of $ 15 billion in the next three to four years and achieve even more.
Zardari assures support on Taiwan and Tibet issues and ‘war on terror’
Zardari during the meeting also reiterated Pakistan’s full support to China’s core issues, including its position on Taiwan and Tibet. Pakistan is firmly opposed to any attempts to undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, he added.
The President expressed his confidence that the government and the patriotic people of China would succeed in frustrating designs of the evil forces of terrorism, extremism and any attempt to undermine territorial integrity. He said that Pakistan was committed to fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations expressing his satisfaction over Pak-China’s strategic and defence cooperation.
Acknowledges support for development and relief
He also appreciated the Chinese help in launching PAK-SAT 1R satellite on Aug 12 this year and termed it another milestone in Pak-China relations.
Zardari also lauded China for its substantial, timely and targeted assistance for the recovery of flood victims as well as help and support to overcome Attabad lake problem in Gilgit-Baltistan and that the Government of Pakistan had accepted the proposal of China Reconstruction Bridge Corporation (CRBC) for the construction of 13 kms of new route and rehabilitation of 22 kilometers of existing sections of Karakoram Highway by lowering water level of the lake.
The President also sought Chinese investment in the proposed new city of Zulfikarabad in Sindh.
Apprising the Chinese Vice Premier about Pakistan’s plan to float infrastructure bonds backed by the natural resources in oil and gas, he invited the Chinese investment in the Infrastructure Bonds.
The President thanked China for its continued support for Pakistan’s stability and sovereignty as well as for standing by it at every international forum in the aftermath of Osama Bin Laden’s killing by US forces and for standing by it at every critical juncture. Pakistan will continue to seek guidance and assistance in the common pursuit of rooting out terrorism from the region, he added.
Meeting with industrialists
Earlier President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday invited China’s industrial giants and large business groups and companies to take benefit from Pakistan’s investment-friendly and incentives-driven policies by investing in diverse fields.
He said Pakistan, a growing economy with around 180 million people, had huge untapped natural resources coupled with the government’s pro-investment policies and incentives such as no restriction on equity or repatriation of capital gains, was an attractive place for foreign investors.
The President said that enhanced investment by Chinese industrial and corporate sector companies and groups in different fields and projects in Pakistan including electricity generation, oil and gas exploration, coal mining, infrastructure, communication, telecom, agriculture and dairy development etc. would be welcomed to a win-win scenario.
President Zardari was talking to the heads and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of China’s major industrial and corporate sector companies, groups and consortiums, who separately called on him here on the sidelines of the first China-Eurasia Expo and discussed the prospects and opportunities of trade and investment in Pakistan.
The Federal Ministers, who were accompanying the President in the visit along with senior officials and spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar were also present in the meetings. Briefing the media the spokesperson spoke about the president’s meetings with companies in the energy sector and their potential investment interests in Pakistan’s power generation sector.
The President said that the present government of Pakistan in order to improve the country’s energy resources was focused on building mega hydropower projects in Diamer Bhasha and Bunji.
Development of the Thar Coal field and electricity generation through coal gasification is also on the cards, he said and added that Pakistan needs to revamp its existing transmission lines as well as building new ones for efficient transmission and reducing line losses.
The President said Pakistan is an investment friendly country and offers business opportunities in variety of areas including infrastructure and public transport.
He said the relations with China are the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy and the leadership of two countries stand committed to promote bilateral economic co-operation.
The President said as Pakistan is building 4500 MW Diamer Bhasha Dam and 7000 MW Bunji Dam in Gilgit Baltistan, it would welcome and encourage the Chinese companies to participate in the bidding. He hoped that SinoTrans will offer logistics support to increased transportation requirements in Pakistan.
Two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed between the All China Federation for Industry and Commerce (ACFIC) and the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPPCI) and China’s Foton Motors and the Government of Sindh for co-operation in trade and transport, respectively.
President Zardari witnessed the signing of MoUs by First Vice President of ACFIC Quan Zhezhu and President FPCCI Senator Haji Ghulam Ali; and CEO of Beiqi Foton Motor Company Ltd Wang Jinyu and Chairman Board of Investment (BOI) Salim H. Mandviwala on behalf of the Sindh Government.