Pak PM Shehbaz Sharif to visit China next month in push to boost economic ties

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Pak PM Shehbaz Sharif to visit China next month in push to boost economic ties
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Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is set to visit China next month, a move which is seen as a bid to boost economic ties between the two nations.

New Delhi,UPDATED: Oct 20, 2022 08:55 IST

By India Today Web Desk: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is set to visit China next month, a move which is seen as a bid to boost economic ties between the two nations. The visit comes at a time when cash-strapped Pakistan is trying to arrange billions of dollars for payment of debts and bridge the trade deficit.

Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal confirmed the visit while addressing the media in Islamabad.

He said that Sharif’s “visit to China next month is expected to give a new impetus to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project”.

However, according to diplomatic sources, the Prime Minister would seek relaxation in the payment of Chinese debt after the decision that the country would not go to the Paris Club to reschedule its USD 27 billion debt.

The Paris Club is a group of officials from major creditor nations whose role is to find coordinated and sustainable solutions to the payment difficulties experienced by debtor countries.

Pakistan owes Paris Club countries a combined sum of around USD 10.7 billion.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan’s total non-Paris Club bilateral debt currently stands at about USD 27 billion, of which Chinese debt is about USD 23 billion.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that Pakistan needed around USD 34 billion during the current year to pay off debts and meet the current account deficit.

However, the planning minister said that no progress was made on the CPEC projects during the previous government led by Imran Khan. He said Prime Minister Sharif would try to expedite work on those schemes.

Launched in 2013, the CPEC is a corridor linking Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with Kashgar in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which highlights energy, transport, and industrial cooperation.

The USD 60 billion CPEC is part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of President Xi Jinping.

This comes after Communist Party Congress delegates picked Chinese President Xi Jinping for a third leadership term and secured his place as the country’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong.

China has historically come to Pakistan’s rescue with economic, political, and military assistance and the leadership of the two countries has often described their ties as “all-weather”.

A day ago, China put a hold on the proposal to list Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist Shahid Mahmood as a global terrorist tabled by India and the United States at the United Nations.

This is the fourth instance in many months that Beijing has blocked bids to blacklist terrorists at the world organisation.



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