Pakistan and China on Saturday concluded nearly 30 billion dollars’ worth of deals, as Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said that Beijing would “never give up” on its long-term ally.
The deals – 18 agreements and four memorandums of understanding (MoUs) – were signed on the second day of Premier Wen’s trip, which came on the heels of his visit to Pakistan’s archrival, India.
The main focus of Wen’s tour – the first by a Chinese premier to Pakistan in five years – was on boosting trade and investment between the two countries.
The two sides also agreed on carrying out a feasibility study for building small power plants.
“The agreements will fetch nearly $15 billion investment over the next five years,” said Board of Investment chairman Saleem Mandviwala. He also hoped the deals would boost trade to $15 billion.
The latest contracts cover cooperation in defence, oil and gas, mining, space technology, heavy machinery manufacturing, seafood, oceanology and electronics.
The two countries will cooperate and share expertise in these sectors and frame their policies while bearing in mind each other’s sensitivities.
Of the 22 deals, the most important one was signed in the defence sector.
Under an agreement between Pakistan’s Space and Aeronautical Research Corporation and China’s Great Wall Industry Corporation, Beijing will help Pakistan build a communication satellite, PAKSAT-1R. The Chinese government will fund the project with a soft loan of $200 million. The new satellite will replace the Pakistan Space Craft, which is likely to expire next year.
In the alternative energy sector, the two sides concluded a 6.5 billion dollars’ worth of MoUs. Similarly, another $3.5 billion worth of agreement was signed to improve Pakistan’s power transmission lines.
According to another $275 million deal signed between the National Highway Authority (NHA) and China’s Roads and Bridges Corporation, Beijing will repair a long stretch of the strategic Karakorum Highway damaged by the massive landslide in the Attabad area of Gilgit-Baltistan.
“A great potential has yet to be tapped in the two countries’ practical cooperation,” said Chinese Premier Wen and called for concerted efforts to bring more benefits to the two peoples.
The visiting leader also promised more help for the areas battered by recent catastrophic floods in Pakistan, particularly offering assistance in road repair, food production and relief programmes.
At a briefing at the National Disaster Management Authority, Premier Wen announced $10 million grant for the citizens compensation programme for flood survivors and $400 million concessional loan to help meet their needs.
Currently, the annual volume of China-Pakistan trade is $7 billion, which is tilted in favour of Beijing. China exports over $5.5 billion worth of goods to Pakistan. Chairman of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, Tariq Iqbal Puri said the trade volume would increase to $10 billion by 2012. “And during the next five years it’s likely to reach $15 billion,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Chinese dignitary spent a busy day on Saturday, meeting top political and military leadership during which he vowed to cement the two nations’ cooperation in all fields. During these interactions, the two sides pledged to take forward their bilateral cooperation to new heights, irrespective of any international pressure. Premier Wen will the addressing the Pakistani nation through parliament on Sunday (today).
“Under no circumstances we will give up on our commitment to pursuing this partnership,” the Chinese premier said during a luncheon function.
“We have established an all-weather friendship and engaged in all-around cooperation. Our relationship has withstood the test of time and changes in the international landscape,” the Chinese leader said at another function.
During their delegation-level talks at the Presidency, Wen said a mechanism has been worked out which, he hoped, would provide impetus to further enhancing mutual cooperation.
President Asif Ali Zardari, who hosted a state dinner for the Chinese leader also attended by heads of mainstream political parties, said, “Pakistan was keen to take Sino-Pak multifaceted ties to new heights as the friendship between the two countries has matured into a comprehensive strategic partnership. Strengthening and enhancing cooperation with China in all fields has been and is one of the key principles guiding Pakistan’s foreign policy.”
He said that China was a factor of stability in the region and the convergence of interests and unanimity of views on regional as well issues of international scenario have brought the two countries further closer.
Earlier, Prime Minister Gilani told the luncheon gathering that ties between the two countries were “rock solid”. He said Pakistan supports one-China policy and “condemns any attempt to undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif also met Wen and discussed matters of bilateral interest. During the meeting he urged the Chinese premier to further enhance and expand China’s participation in Pakistan’s economic growth and development. Services chiefs of Pakistan’s armed forces also met with the visiting dignitary.
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Khalid Shameem Wynne, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Noman Bashir and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman exchanged views with Wen Jiabao on defence cooperation and other matters of mutual interest, according to ISPR.
• Agreements will fetch $15b in investment over next five years
• Beijing will help Pakistan build a communication satellite, PAKSAT-1R
• Feasibility on building small power plants to be prepared
• One agreement stipulates improving power transmission lines
• China to repair Karakorum portion damaged by Attabad landslide
Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2010.
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