Pakistan expects cash from China

| Prime Minister also plans to seek investment | Both sides upbeat about Khan’s China visit

ISLAMABAD   -  Pakistan expects China to provide a reasonable amount of cash to support Pakistan amid the economic crises, officials here said, citing the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Beijing.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that among all the maters to be discussed, Pakistan’s economic crises remained on top.

For Pakistan, one official said, Beijing’s visit is an opportunity to minimise Pakistan’s economic quagmire. “We want cash from China. They have hinted at supporting us. We always expect that from China. PM Imran Khan will discusses investment by the Chinese business in Pakistan,” the official added.

Earlier, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying announced the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan, hoping that it would take bilateral ties to a new height. Making the announcement at the regular news briefing here, she said the Chinese government attached great importance to the visit.

Hua Chunying said: “China has invited Prime Minister Imran Khan to pay an official visit in early November and attend the first China International Import Expo.” She said China and Pakistan were all-weather strategic partners, and their relationship had always been operating at a high level.

She said China had noticed difficulties in debt in Pakistan and supported the Pakistani side to take measures to respond positively.

Reports said China planned to provide an unspecified financial ‘grant’ to Pakistan. Earlier, Prime Minister Khan secured more than $ 6 billion in immediate financial support from Pakistan’s close ally Saudi Arabia during an official visit to Riyadh. The United Arab Emirates is also considering a Saudi-like package.

In Islamabad Deputy Chinese Ambassador Lijian Zhao said Pakistanis should expect a ‘good news’ in terms of securing financial assistance for Pakistan. “During the visit of the Prime Minister, we will provide, hopefully, a grant to the Pakistani government. Please look forward to the outcome of this visit. There will be more good news to follow” he said. He however, did not speak about the give the size of the grant.

Another official at the foreign ministry said that even if China provided a Saudi-like package, Pakistan will be in a reasonable position to hold talks with the International Monetary Fund in November.

“We have the Saudi package. We are looking forwards to support from the UAE, so if we get something from China as well, we will be in a much better position than we were a few weeks earlier,” he said. The official said both the sides were upbeat about Imran Khan’s visit so there would be some positive development.

Pakistan urgently needs foreign currency to shore up its depleting reserves of less than $ 8 billion, which is barely enough for servicing its debt and paying import bills.

Imran Khan’s government, which took over in August believes the country needed about $12 billion to fulfill domestic and external liabilities.

Te PM will be travelling to Beijing from November 2-5 on his first official visit to the country. He is scheduled to meet President Xi Jinping and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang among others.

Government officials said Pakistan was going to give a guarantee to Beijing that the ongoing infrastructure and energy projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would continue, and Islamabad would ensure its smooth and timely completion. In return Imran Khan would expect a support package.

The ‘iron brothers’ –as Pakistan and China call themselves – have intensified contacts after the ‘misunderstanding’ on the CPEC as the Financial Times ‘misquoted’ Adviser Razzak Dawood.

Pakistan later told China that CPEC was a matter of life and death for Pakistan and Dawood’s statement was misquoted. The Foreign Office said Pakistan remained committed to the successful implementation of CPEC.

The FO said there was complete consensus on the future trajectory of CPEC and the two sides were in agreement to expand cooperation in other areas including socio-economic development, poverty alleviation, anti-corruption, agricultural cooperation and industrial development as per the needs and priorities of the government of Pakistan. Later, Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa also visited China and held talks with the Chinese leadership including President Xi Jinping.

The Financial Times had reported that Pakistan was planning to review or renegotiate agreements reached under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Amid the arguments, Prime Minister Khan said Pakistan’s friendship with China was time tested. Khan believes that friendship with China was a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said Prime Minister Imran Khan would pay an official visit to China on November 2-5 and would be accompanied by a high-level delegation including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

He said during his stay in Beijing, the Prime Minister would hold wide-ranging meetings with the Chinese leadership and would also be among the keynote speakers at the first China-Pakistan Expo to be held in Shanghai.

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