BEIJING: Prime Minister Imran Khan met Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sunday, the last day of his four-day official visit and discussed matters of mutual interest.
During his meeting with the Chinese president, PM Imran was accompanied by ministers and senior officials. Both sides reaffirmed the time-tested and strong friendship between Pakistan and China and exchanged views on the myriad facets of bilateral engagement.
PM Imran conveyed Pakistan’s unflinching commitment to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the two sides discussed the mega infrastructure project’s extension into new areas. President Xi also reiterated China’s unwavering support to Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and appreciated the government’s agenda for socio-economic development and people-centred progress.
The prime minister extended felicitations to the Chinese leadership on the successful conclusion of the BRF. Noting the depth and breadth of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the prime minister said that it was of immense significance for the world in terms of connectivity and shared prosperity.
The two sides exchanged views on bilateral collaboration in the context of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and prospects of further deepening economic linkages. The prime minister underscored the importance of CPEC for Pakistan’s economy and noted with satisfaction its expansion into new areas of development – including industrial development; livelihood projects; social uplift; and agriculture in line with the priorities of the government. He hoped that Chinese investment in Specialized Economic Zones (SEZs) would expand Pakistan’s industrial base and assist in diversifying its export basket.
Underlining the steady growth of bilateral cooperation since the prime minister’s last visit to China in November 2018, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang expressed satisfaction at the positive momentum of CPEC projects. He hoped that the conclusion of the second phase of the Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA), would give a further boost to trade and economic relations between the two countries. The two sides agreed to further deepen the political, security, economic, education, science & technology, cultural, and people-to-people relations.
It was agreed to maintain the existing momentum of high-level exchanges between the two countries.
The two leaders also exchanged views on regional issues, including peace efforts in Afghanistan and peace and stability in South Asia. They also agreed to closely coordinate in their endeavours.
The two prime ministers also witnessed the signing ceremony at which the second phase of the FTA was signed. The other memorandum of understanding and agreement signed on the occasion included Declaration for Completion of Preliminary Design of Phase-I for Up-gradation of ML-1 and Establishment of Havelian Dry Port under CPEC, MoU on Cooperation in the field of Marine Sciences between the China Geological Survey (CGS), Ministry of Natural Resources of China, the Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Science and Technology, MoU between CIDCA and Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform on Implementation of the Projects under JWG of CPEC on Socio-Economic Development, China-Pakistan Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement and Rashakai SEZ Joint Venture and License Agreement between KPEZMDC and CRBC
MULTI-BILLION MAINLINE-1 RAILWAY PROJECT:
Furthermore, Pakistan and China reached an agreement on the multi-billion mainline-1 project of the Pakistan Railways.
Lauding the agreement, Minister for Pakistan Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said, “This is a historic day in the Pakistan Railways’ history.”
He said that the project envisages doubling of main rail track between Peshawar and Karachi, which will significantly reduce travel duration as trains will travel at a speed of 160 kilometre per hour. He said that he had signed the feasibility of the project 13 years ago.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
The meeting was held at the Great Hall of the People. Both the leaders discussed a host of issues, including ties between Beijing and Islamabad, matters of mutual interest and the overall regional situation.
A Pakistani delegation comprising government ministers and officials accompanied the prime minister during the meeting.
Later, the prime minister along with his delegation held a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang and discussed bilateral issues and regional matters.
CPEC HAS BLOSSOMED INTO VARIOUS AREAS OF COOPERATION:
Addressing Pakistan and China Investment Forum in Beijing on Sunday, he said that CPEC that was considered a network of roads and a few power projects has now blossomed into various areas of cooperation today.
He said that a new area of that cooperation is agriculture that is the backbone of our country. He said that Chinese help in seed development and agriculture development will help increase our agricultural productivity manifold. It will also increase the growth trajectory in order to improve the lifestyle of our people, he added.
PM Imran said that in meetings with the Chinese president and premier, the issue of Chinese assistance in science and technology to Pakistan also came into discussion. He said that Pakistan wants to learn from Chinese expertise in information technology and other areas. He said that in his experience of two days in BRF, he came to the conclusion that even Chinese leadership would not have realized that this forum will evolve into a much bigger thing.
He said that Pakistan is among one of the countries that have taken revolutionary steps to survive in the environment of climate change. “Pakistan planted one billion trees to make the areas greener and to control the effects of changing the climate,” he added.
The prime the minister said peace in Afghanistan will help increase connectivity between Pakistan and Central Asia and the wider region. He said there that is a prospect of peace in Afghanistan after many years and Pakistan is playing its part in bringing Taliban and Afghan government representatives to sit together to resolve this decades-old conflict.
Referring to India, he said that Pakistan hopes that Indian elections in the neighbouring country are over soon and there is no incentive for Indian politicians to get votes on anti-Pakistan sentiment.
He said that Pakistan wants to build a civilised relationship with its eastern neighbour and there is a possibility that if we can resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue, things can improve.
He invited Chinese businesspersons to visit Pakistan and explore the investment opportunities in various sectors. He said that Pakistan is looking towards the relocation of Chinese industry in Pakistan.
On Saturday, PM Imran stressed the need for further boosting connectivity under the umbrella of BRI to promote tourism.
Addressing Leader’s Roundtable Session of BRF in Beijing on Saturday, the prime minister said that project should also consider digital connectivity, mobility of labour and transfer of skills, cultural links and knowledge and innovation connectivity to further expand its scope.
To implement these additional areas of connectivity, the prime minister said that the BRI countries should establish a tourism corridor for cultural tourism exchanges.
They should develop programmes for improving the skills of labour from labour surplus countries to assist the labour deficient countries.
He said that both countries should also create multilingual digital platforms for connecting producers, consumers and skilled job seekers.
IM Imran further said that Pakistan is at the crossroads of important regions and throughout the history, it has played a crucial role in connecting ideas, cultures and commerce.
He said that connectivity has been a part of our heritage and the CPEC is giving it modern shape in the 21st century.
Alluding to the Chinese successes, he said the Chinese President Xi Jinping has given the BRI vision to break barriers, connect people, integrate economies and share prosperity.