Imran Khan trip to China starts today

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ISLAMABAD: The government hopes that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s four-day trip to China, which starts on Thursday (today), will reinvigorate the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

“Twenty-one different sectors have been identified to be discussed with the Chinese leadership,” Infor­mation Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn on Wednesday after attending a series of meetings chaired by Mr Khan at the Prime Minister House.

The sectors to be discussed during the PM’s visit are related to the Special Economic Zones created under CPEC, trade, information technology, agriculture and the relocation of massive Chinese industries to Pakistan.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said PM Khan would hold bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

“The leaders will review the entire gamut of bilateral relations, with a particular focus on stronger trade and economic cooperation including CPEC,” the statement said.

The FO also said that the prime minister was visiting China on the invitation of the Chinese leadership.

There has been a general impression that CPEC had slowed down ever since the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) came to power three years ago. However, the government expects the PM’s upcoming visit would be a boost for projects that are either being executed or have yet to launched under the ambit of CPEC.

Prime Minister Khan has repeatedly said that his government had changed the focus of CPEC from road infrastructure to industrialisation, energy and agriculture.

PM’s Special Assistant on CPEC Khalid Mansoor told Dawn that this time around, they were better prepared and had done a comparative analysis of the opportunities Pakistan could provide to Chinese investors.

He said there were 10 different sectors that both countries discussed bilaterally in joint working group meeting, but said that meetings had been arranged with influential Chinese industrials, who will meet the PM during his visit.

According to the Foreign Office, the prime minister will be meeting with prominent business leaders, representatives of leading Chinese think-tanks, academia and the media during his stay in Beijing

Meanwhile, chairing a high level meeting ahead of his upcoming visit to China, the prime minister on Wednesday expressed confidence that his trip would take the strong bilateral ties that already existed between the two countries, to new heights.

The meeting was attended by federal ministers including Shaukat Tareen, Fawad Chaudhry, Asad Umer and Hammad Azhar as wll as Commerce Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood, State Minister Farrukh Habib, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yousuf and Special Assistant Shahbaz Gill along with Kahlid Mansoor.

In addition to meetings on CPEC, PM Khan will also attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games during his visit to China.

“It is highly admirable that the Chinese government has made meticulous arrangements for holding the Winter Olympic Games despite the COVID-19 pandemic,” the FO statement.

The prime minister’s visit will mark the culmination of celebrations commemorating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China, with more than 140 events organized to showcase the resilience of the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and the unfolding international situation.

“It would thus renew the bilateral commitment to taking the iron-clad partnership between Pakistan and China to new heights and add impetus to cooperation across multiple domains,” the FO statement said.

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