Pakistan PM starts China visit to enhance ties, expand CPEC cooperation
Published: Jun 04, 2024 08:58 PM Updated: Jun 05, 2024 12:02 AM


Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif kicked off his visit to China on Tuesday, which marks Sharif's first China visit since he started his second term as prime minister in March. 

Chinese experts said this high-level visit will further enhance ties between China and Pakistan, push forward the development and upgrade of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and expand cooperation in emerging sectors such as new technologies .

While security issues along the CPEC still remain a challenge, Chinese experts said Sharif's visit will elevate mutual trust and push for new cooperation between the two countries to inject strong momentum into the CPEC. 

"We are coming with serious plans to make our friendship become much higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the deepest ocean of the world," Sharif said in an interview with Chinese media in Islamabad ahead of his China trip, the Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday.

Through the visit, Pakistan hopes to promote interaction between enterprises in both countries, utilize special economic zones and Pakistan's labor advantages to establish joint ventures, facilitate the transfer of industries and technologies, and enhance Pakistan's manufacturing output to promote constructing an upgraded CPEC, Sharif said.

Sharif's official visit to China lasts from Tuesday to Saturday, according to an earlier announcement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Qiang, and Zhao Leji, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, will meet or have talks with Sharif. The leaders of the two countries will have an in-depth exchange of views on China-Pakistan relations and issues of mutual interest, and jointly draw up a blueprint for the growth of bilateral relations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a routine press briefing on May 31.

In addition to Beijing, Sharif will also visit South China's Guangdong Province and Northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

In an interview published on Pakistani media on Tuesday, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Jiang Zaidong said that he looks forward to Sharif's visit to further promote the high-quality development of the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between China and Pakistan, continuously provide assistance for Pakistan's economic and social development and demonstrate strong China-Pakistan unity and cooperation to the international community.

Enhancing the ironclad relationship between China and Pakistan is on top of Sharif's agenda as this marks his first trip to China since starting his second term as prime minister in March, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

To push forward the development of the CPEC, and expand bilateral cooperation to new areas such as emerging technologies, e-commerce and ecological agriculture will be the focus of the visit, Qian said.

Pakistan media the Nation reported on Tuesday that an important part of Sharif's visit will be meetings with corporate executives of leading Chinese companies dealing with oil and gas, energy, ICT, and emerging technologies.

Sharif will address the China-Pakistan Business Forum with leading businesspeople, entrepreneurs and investors from both countries. He will also visit economic and agricultural zones in China. The two sides will undertake discussions to further upgrade the CPEC and advance trade and investment, according to the Nation. 

Sharif's visit to China with a federal cabinet and a huge business delegation have gained the attention of international community as it is proving to be another milestone for elevating the bilateral relationship to a new height, Muhammad Zamir Assadi, a Pakistani political analyst and a research fellow of the Beijing-based China International Press Communication Center, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Based on the remarkable achievements of the CPEC in phase one, this visit will lay a solid foundation for both sides to enter into the second phase of the project that is expected to yield the unaccountable economic benefits for Pakistan, Assadi said.

Fighting terrorism in focus

Experts said that counter-terrorism and safeguarding the security of the CPEC are also the main focus of Sharif's current visit. 

In March this year, five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver were killed in a suicide terrorist attack at the China-invested Dasu hydropower project. There have been similar incidents in recent years.

Under the current circumstances, cooperation to protect the safety of Chinese personnel and projects in Pakistan not only contributes to the development of the CPEC, but can also help Pakistan enhance its capabilities, so as to ultimately eradicate terrorism from its roots, Qian said. 

While security threats remain a concern for development of the CPEC, Sharif's visit will serve to enhance mutual trust between the two countries to tackle these challenges, Zhu Yongbiao, executive director of the Research Center for the Belt and Road at Lanzhou University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

This visit will also help China and Pakistan to expand new cooperation models under the new security concept, and provide strong support for the CPEC, Zhu said.