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Chinese President will launch energy and infrastructure projects worth $46 billion

17 April, 2015

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ISLAMABAD: Chinese President Xi Jinping will launch energy and infrastructure projects worth $46 billion on a visit to Pakistan next week as China cements links with its old ally and generates opportunities for firms hit by slack growth at home.

Also being finalised is a long-discussed plan to sell Pakistan eight Chinese submarines. The deal, worth between $4 billion and $5 billion, according to media reports, may be among those signed on the trip.

Xi will visit next Monday and Tuesday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said on Thursday. Commercial and defence ties are drawing together the two countries, which share a remote border and long-standing mistrust of their increasingly powerful neighbour, India, and many Western nations.

Xi’s trip is expected to focus on a Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, a planned $46-billion network of roads, railways and energy projects linking Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with China’s far-western Xinjiang region.

It would shorten the route for China’s energy imports, bypassing the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia, a bottleneck at risk of blockade in wartime.

If the submarine deal is signed, China may also offer Pakistan concessions on building a refuelling and mechanical station in Gwadar, a defence analyst said. China’s own submarines could use the station to extend their range in the Indian Ocean.

“China is thinking in terms of a maritime silk road now, something to connect the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean,” said a Pakistani defence official, who declined to be identified.

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