Prime Minister Imran Khan’s four-day visit to China besides writing a new chapter in Pak-China relations, proved an occasion to present to the world the image of Naya Pakistan – democratic, dynamic and dedicated to the welfare of its people.
It was Prime Minister Imran Khan’s second official tour of China with focus on multiple objectives. During the visit, he interacted with leaders of various countries gathered there and also exchanged views with heads of various international financial institutions. The basic objective was to attend the Second Belt and Road Forum but it was an opportunity to engage more deeply with the Chinese leadership in the joint compact to advance the goals of regional and global peace and progress.
Prime Minister Imran Khan held meetings with China’s top leadership, including President Xi Jinping and Pemier Li Keqiang. The two sides also engaged in delegation-level talks. Reaffirming the “All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership” between Pakistan and China, the two leaders exchanged views on the entire range of bilateral ties. They affirmed the resolve to further strengthen their strategic cooperative partnership in all fields including political, security, economic and trade, and people-to-people exchanges. Both sides expressed satisfaction over the close cooperation between the two countries at multilateral fora and resolved to further deepen communication and coordination at all levels. They also agreed to keep up the momentum of high-level exchanges between the two countries.
In the talks with Chinese leadership, the CPEC was naturally at the top of the agenda. On behalf of Pakistan, PM Imran conveyed unflinching commitment to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. In this context, the two sides discussed the mega infrastructure project’s extension into new areas of agriculture, industrial development, and socio-economic uplift. Imran Khan assured his Chinese hosts that Pakistan would always support China on all issues of its core interest. The premier thanked President Xi for China’s steadfast support to Pakistan on all issues of regional and international importance.
President Xi also reiterated China’s unwavering support to Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and appreciated the PTI government’s agenda for socio-economic development and people-centered progress. He asserted that China-Pakistan ties would continue to acquire greater strength, and practical cooperation would be increased over time. The two sides also exchanged views on the regional situation, including Afghanistan and South Asia. President Xi appreciated Pakistan’s sustained and successful efforts in the fight against terrorism, so as to create a peaceful neighbourhood.
Leaders from 37 countries and delegations from over 100 countries participated in the BRI Forum. In his keynote speech at the forum’s opening ceremony, Imran Khan called for greater attention towards tackling climate change and poverty, while urging world leaders to undertake joint efforts to address impediments in the way of sustainable global growth. In his address Imran Khan presented five proposals to further expand China’s Belt and Road Initiative. He proposed joint efforts to mitigate climate change and urged world leaders to launch a joint project to plant 100 billion trees over the next two years to mitigate the effects of climate change for the coming generations. Imran Khan also suggested the establishment of a BRI tourism corridor to promote people-to-people contacts and inter-cultural understanding. Thirdly, he said an anti-corruption cooperation should be set up to combat the scourge of white-collar crime which is devastating the world.
Another major proposal given by the Pakistan premier was to create a poverty alleviation fund that would supplement national efforts in the fight against poverty and malnourishment. In this connection, he referred to Pakistan’s targeted poverty alleviation programme called “Ehsas”. He said his government’s aim was to emulate China’s spectacular success in lifting 800 million people out of poverty within a matter of decades. Lastly, Imran Khan called for concerted efforts to further liberalise trade and investment flows, encouraging the private sector and businesses to collaborate in development projects.
Talking about BRI, Imran Khan said that the initiative offers a model of collaboration, partnership, connectivity and shared prosperity for all nations. He pointed out that Pakistan was among the BRI’s “earliest and most enthusiastic proponents”, and spoke of the “substantial progress” achieved on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The PM’s visit also confirmed that Pakistan and China are entering the next phase of the CPEC, with greater emphasis on socio-economic uplift, poverty alleviation, agricultural cooperation and industrial development
PM Imran Khan explained to the gathering of the world leaders that it was a privilege for Pakistan to be an early partner of China. He said that under the CPEC project Pakistan was building highways, modernising railroads, setting up power plants, establishing a port, and setting up Special Economic Zones. The connectivity of Gwadar Port with China’s Xinjiang region will provide a shorter route for China’s imports compared to the South China Sea and reduce the cost for Chinese companies, and develop western regions of the Asian giant. All in all, it was most fruitful visit, opening new doors for multidimensional cooperation between the two countries.