Pakistan can always rely on ‘all-weather friend’ China

Pakistan can always rely on ‘all-weather friend’ China

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign minister has urged his Chinese counterpart to correct the ‘imbalance in bilateral trade’ by encouraging imports from Pakistan and to strengthen strategic cooperation between the two countries.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Wang Yi were meeting during the Chinese foreign minister’s three-day visit to Islamabad.

“I urged the (Chinese) foreign minister that we work together while enhancing our trade cooperation. China will provide subsidies to encourage exports and correct imbalance in bilateral trade,” Qureshi said on Saturday. He went to assure his counterpart that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) remains a “top priority” of his government.

Noting that the two sides had discussed terrorism and counter-terrorism measures, Qureshi added: “China has always supported Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism,” making a reference to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

“We will maintain close coordination on regional and global issues,” he said, “China is our all-weather friend and we can always rely on China’s support at various international forums.”

Talking about the multi-billion dollar CPEC, he said that both sides have made substantive progress on the CPEC and added: “I reassure the foreign minister that it is of immense strategic and national importance to Pakistan.”

He assured his Chinese counterpart that security of Chinese nationals working on different CPEC projects was a top priority of his government. “Our law enforcement agencies are working hard to create a secure working environment for Chinese nationals in Pakistan,” he said.

The Chinese Foreign Minister said he believes that Imran Khan-led government will lead the people of Pakistan in working with one heart and one mind in overcoming difficulties and toward the vision of a new Pakistan.

“We will stand by Pakistan as a good neighbor, good friend and good partner,” he said. “We will strengthen industrial capacity and livelihood development in Pakistan. We have agreed to strive for greater balance in two-way trade and China will encourage imports from Pakistan and send more trade promotion teams to the country.”

He added that Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and China would be upgraded and that they have agreed to engage in industrial capacity cooperation.

He said that China will also be deepening defense and security cooperation and meetings between the two militaries will be increased, expressing China’s continued support to helping Pakistan fight terrorism.

“We will also strengthen cooperation in international and regional affairs, such as the Afghanistan reconciliation process,” he said.

Giving details about the CPEC, he said 22 projects have been undertaken, of which nine have been completed and 13 are under way. “There has been investment of $19 billion and one to two percentage points of growth for Pakistan,” he explained.

Yi said the CPEC projects have helped create about 70,000 jobs in Pakistan, which is a “tangible benefit.”

The Chinese foreign minister extended an invitation to Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit an expo in China in November as a guest of honor. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang were also invited to visit Pakistan.

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