Home China Pakistan PM Shehbaz, Chinese premier vow to protect CPEC from ‘detractors, adversaries’: FO

PM Shehbaz, Chinese premier vow to protect CPEC from ‘detractors, adversaries’: FO

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ISLAMABAD/BEIJING: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday met Chinese Premier Li Qiang in Beijing, where they resolved to protect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project “from its detractors and adversaries”, the Foreign Office (FO) said.

Addressing a weekly press briefing, FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said the two leaders held delegation-level talks this morning as the premier and his delegation’s five-day China visit nears its end.

This is PM Shehbaz’s first visit to China following the February 8 general elections, and will likely see the inauguration of CPEC’s second phase.

The trip has led to a delay in the annual federal budget — usually presented in the first week of June — and is now expected to be presented on June 12, according to the government’s tentative plan.

During the talks today, premiers Shehbaz and Qiang “expressed their firm commitment to protect CPEC from its detractors and adversaries”, the FO spokesperson said.

They reiterated their unwavering support for each other on core issues and also reaffirmed their continued commitment to CPEC’s high-quality development and the timely completion of all ongoing projects, Zahra said.

According to the FO spokesperson, the two leaders asserted that the Pakistan-China All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership was “characterised by mutual trust, shared principles and strategic convergence”.

PM Shehbaz also reaffirmed Pakistan’s “unflinching resolve” to ensure the safety and security of Chinese personnel and projects in Pakistan, Zahra said.

She further said the two nations agreed to maintain high-level exchanges, including “strengthening institutional linkages at all tiers and in all spheres of bilateral cooperation”.

“Pakistan and China will also continue to consult closely on issues of regional and global significance and multilateral fora, especially during the two-year tenure of Pakistan” as a non-member of the United Nations Security Council, the FO spokesperson said.

Zahra highlighted that 23 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and agreements were also signed, which were aimed at “deepening cooperation in transport infrastructure, industry, energy, agriculture, media, health, water and socio-economic development” among other areas.

PM Shehbaz will later travel to the city of Xi’an where he will hold meetings with the provincial leadership and business leaders in agricultural and green energy sectors, she added.

As he arrived at the Great Hall of People in Beijing to meet with Qiang, the prime minister was presented with a Guard of Honour.

China trip

On Tuesday, PM Shehbaz and most of the federal cabinet members landed in China’s tech hub of Shenzhen as they embarked on their five-day trip to the neighbouring country to seek more investments.

The next day, the premier had empha­sised the need for business-to-business cooperation between the two nations and assured Chinese investors of all-out facilitation and foolproof security.

He had also invited technology giant Huawei to invest in Pakistan’s taxation and e-governance sectors besides enhancing its presence in the various Safe City projects operational across the country. The two nations also signed 32 MoUs to promote trade and investment.

A day ago, PM Shehbaz met potential Chinese investors, including the president of China’s Exim Bank to whom he assured that Pakistan was taking steps to improve governance, increase the tax net and ensure ease of doing business to attract foreign direct investment.

Speaking at the 4th Pakistan-China Friendship and Business Reception in Beijing later during the day, he asserted that Pakistan could become a “great nation” if it followed the Chinese development model, focusing on industrial and agricultural growth.

Apart from prominent business figures, the Pakistani delegation in­­cludes Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb, Petroleum Minister Dr Musaddik Malik, Information and Broadcasting Minister Attaullah Tarar, Food Security Minister Rana Tanveer Hussain, Commerce Minis­ter Jam Kamal Khan, Privatisation Minister Abdul Aleem Khan and Minister of State for Information Technology Shaza Fatima Khawaja.