ISLAMABAD: The Embassy of China in Islamabad, along with the Foriegn Office, confirmed on Sunday that Chinese President Xi Jingping’s scheduled visit to Pakistan has been mutually postponed and that both sides were working on new dates, not far from today.
“We (China and Pakistan) have mutually agreed to postpone the visit and are working on new dates which would not be so far,” a senior official in the Chinese embassy told The Express Tribune.
The official also mentioned that the embassy had been busy during last few weeks in making arrangements for the visit.
Commenting on the reason behind the postponement, he said it was due to the current situation in Pakistan and expressed hope that relevant parties would work together while bearing in mind the fundamental interests of the state and the people.
“What happens here in Pakistan, is a domestic issue and China would not interfere,” he said.
The official brushed off suggestions that the two countries’ relations would be affected due to a temporary postponement, saying their relationshop was beyond such things.
Despite the postponement of President Xi Jingping’s visit, which has delayed the signing ceremonies of several projects, both Pakistan and China are exploring options to keep the momentum going, the official said.
“We are trying to find out some ways that these documents are signed so that the momentum is not affected,” he said, adding that there was a long list of projects, some of which have already started while several were under discussion. The Lahore-Karachi motorway, economic corridor and power sector projects have already been discussed and finalised.
In response to a question on whether China was offering Pakistan a loan or going for investment, the official said, “We have a variety of arrangements when it comes to economic cooperation, transparent and fair, but are mutually beneficial.”
“Our cooperation goes beyond the projects,” he said, referring to both countries’ collaboration on political affairs, global issues, people-to-people contact and counter-terrorism.
The explanation came in the backdrop of speculation over the Chinese president’s visit to Pakistan, particularly following China’s foreign ministry’s comment denying the releas of any information regarding President Xi Jingping’s visit to Pakistan. The story on the Chinese forign office’s statement can be viewed here.
The embassy official further said it would be President Xi Jingping’s first visit to Pakistan since he took office. The last time the Chinese president visited Pakistan was eight years ago, he added.
Emphasising on the importance of Pak-China relations, the official said, “Our president would be visiting India and Sri Lanka but Pak-China relations cannot be compared with India.”
He said that Pakistan and China have a history of bilateral relations and while refering to four visits of Pakistani leadership in last few months to China, noted “no world leader has visited China so frequently.”
“When new dates are finalised, the Indians will say the Chinese president only visited Pakistan,” he added.
Foreign office statement
Meanwhile, a statement was released by the Pakistan’s foreign ministry on Saturday saying that the decision to postpone President Xi’s visit was taken by both countries in view of the current political situation in Pakistan. It added that new dates for the Chinese president’s visit to Pakistan were being discussed through diplomatic channels.
On Friday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s top aide on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz announced that the Chinese president had decided to postpone his visit to Pakistan due to possible security threats in light of the ongoing protests by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek in Islamabad.