PM’s China trip to target economy

Shehbaz expected to seek debt rescheduling, CPEC Phase-II kickoff

Kamran Yousaf May 23, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. PHOTO: APP


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is expected to travel to China in the first week of June as part of his government’s efforts to seek greater cooperation from Beijing to pull the country out of economic troubles.

This will be Shehbaz’s first visit to Beijing since he returned to the Prime Minister’s Office after the February 8 elections.

Official sources said that the prime minister will kick off his three day trip to China from June 4. During the visit he will meet the top Chinese leadership including President Xi Jinping.

Ahead of the visit, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar and Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal already travelled to Beijing.

Dar co-chaired the strategic dialogue with his Chinese counterpart where both countries agreed to deepen their cooperation and vowed not to let incidents such as the one targeting Chinese engineers disrupt their ties.

At least five Chinese engineers were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up near Besham targeting the Chinese convoy.

This was the latest attack targeting Chinese nationals and raised concerns in China about the safety and security of their citizens working in Pakistan.

The joint statement issued after the strategic dialogue said both countries would bring to justice all those who were behind the terrorist attack. They also made it clear that such attacks would not undermine their bilateral cooperation.

The security of Chinese nationals and China’s interests has become a major issue in recent years. Although China publically never said things that might embarrass Pakistan, privately it did raise concerns over the security arrangements.

The agenda of the prime minister’s visit to China is wide-ranging. However, the primary focus will be on initiating the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and seeking restructuring of the $15 billion loan China gave for setting up power plants in the country.

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China remains Pakistan’s pivotal strategic partner as it has rescued  Islamabad on crucial occasions. Beijing’s timely rollover of loans in July last year prevented a potential default of Pakistan.

China’s support is also crucial for Pakistan in the wake of changing global politics. With India’s growing ties with the US, Pakistan is increasingly relying on China to protect its core interests.

When the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took charge after the elections, the foreign office in a brief informed the new administration that China remained central to Pakistan’s foreign policy.



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