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BEIJING: China will continue to support Pakistan as it tries to stabilise its financial situation, state media quoted President Xi Jinping as saying on Wednesday, during a visit by Pakistan’s prime minister to Beijing.

Pakistan had been struggling with a balance of payments crisis even before devastating floods hit the country this summer, causing it an estimated $30 billion or more in losses.

Pakistan was expected to seek debt relief from China, particularly the rolling over of bilateral debt of around $23 billion.

China’s central bank and the State Bank of Pakistan have signed a memorandum of cooperation recently for the establishment of an RMB clearing arrangement in Pakistan, in a bid to facilitate the use of RMB for cross-border transactions by enterprises and financial institutions in both countries, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said on Wednesday.

China and Pakistan should also move forward more effectively with the construction of their economic corridor, as well as accelerate the construction of infrastructure for the Gwadar Sea Port, Xi told Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People. China has been involved in major mining and infrastructure projects in Pakistan, including the deep-water Gwadar port, all part of the $65 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

PM Shehbaz to discuss 'CPEC revitalisation' as he arrives in China

Xi added that the countries should work together to create conditions for the early implementation of the Mainline-1 (ML-1) railway upgrading project and the Karachi Circular Railway project.

China will also export technology for a 160 km/h high-speed railway train to Pakistan, state broadcaster CCTV said on Wednesday.

The developments and projects in Pakistan, a longtime Chinese ally, are part of Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to improve China’s road, rail and sea routes with the rest of the world. China is willing to deepen cooperation in the digital economy, e-commerce, photovoltaic technology and other new energy-related areas, Xi said.

Sharif was one of the first leaders to meet Xi since he secured a third term as leader of the ruling Communist Party in October.—Reuters

APP adds: President Xi Jinping, in a meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif assured China’s continued support for Pakistan’s sustainable economic and strategic projects including the Main Line-1 (ML-1) rail track and announced an additional assistance package of RMB 500 million for the country’s flood relief efforts.

In a meeting held at the People’s Great Hall, the two leaders, reaffirming their mutual commitment to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), agreed that as a project of strategic importance, both sides would make joint efforts to “launch the ML-1 as an early harvest project under the CPEC framework”.

Both leaders also acknowledged the need for a mass-transit project in Karachi and agreed to finalize all formalities for the early launch of the Karachi Circular Railway.

They also appreciated the signing of a number of agreements, covering a broad range of bilateral cooperation during the visit.

PM Shehbaz Sharif congratulated President Xi on his re-election as General Secretary of the 20th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. He also thanked him for China’s invaluable assistance to Pakistan’s relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the wake of the devastation, caused by super floods in Pakistan.

The two leaders reviewed the progress in Pakistan-China bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest. They reaffirmed their commitment to the All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership between the two countries that has withstood the test of time. The two nations have stood firmly side by side, in realizing their shared vision of peace, stability, development and prosperity.

Reaffirming Pakistan’s unique historic ties with China and the salience of bilateral friendship for regional peace and stability, Prime Minister Shehbaz strongly emphasized that Pakistan-China friendship enjoyed complete consensus across the political spectrum in Pakistan and was a model of inter-state relations.

Paying tribute to President Xi’s leadership for China’s prosperity and his vision for strengthening bilateral relationship, the prime minister said that Pakistan drew inspiration from China’s socio-economic development and national resolve to the country’s progress and prosperity.

The two leaders discussed cooperation across a range of issues, including defence, trade and investment, agriculture, health, education, green energy, science and technology, and disaster preparedness.

They exchanged views on the rapid transformation in the international environment, which had exacerbated economic challenges for developing countries. They affirmed their shared belief in dialogue and cooperation, based on equality and mutual benefit as critical for global peace and prosperity. They agreed that contemporary challenges like climate change, health pandemics, and growing inequalities needed unqualified cooperation among states, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.

There was complete unanimity of views between the two leaders.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Xi Jinping also discussed key issues, pertaining to the region including the situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and in Afghanistan.

Both leaders acknowledged that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan would promote regional security and economic development and agreed that CPEC’s extension to Afghanistan would strengthen regional connectivity initiatives.

The prime minister also extended a warm invitation to President Xi for visiting Pakistan at an early date, which the latter accepted graciously.

Joint Statement

(1) Shehbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, undertook an official visit to the People’s Republic of China from 1-2 November 2022. This was the Prime Minister’s first bilateral visit after assuming office.

(2) During the visit, H.E. Xi Jinping, President of China, met with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif held talks with H.E. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council, and met with Li Zhanshu, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. The Prime Minister felicitated President Xi Jinping on his re-election as General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), expressed admiration for his leadership, wisdom, vision and people-centered philosophy of development, and commended his contributions to continued growth of Pakistan-China relations. The Prime Minister welcomed President Xi to visit Pakistan. President Xi expressed that he would visit at his earliest convenience. The two leaders pledged to work together to further deepen the bilateral ties.

(3) Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif conveyed felicitations on the successful conclusion of the 20th CPC National Congress. He lauded the central role of the CPC and its leadership in promoting China’s development, prosperity and national rejuvenation. He expressed deep admiration for China’s achievement in socio-economic development and contribution to reform of world politics and governance philosophy under the leadership of the CPC.

(4) Chinese leaders appreciated the long standing commitment of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Pakistan-China friendship. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to further strengthen and deepen Pakistan-China All-weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership and enhance practical cooperation in all areas.

(5) The two sides held in-depth exchange of views on the bilateral relations as well as regional situation and international political landscape. The two sides agreed on the importance of China-Pakistan All-weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership amidst the emerging global challenges. The meetings were marked by traditional warmth, mutual strategic trust and commonality of views.

(6) The leaders reaffirmed that close strategic ties and profound friendship between China and Pakistan was time-tested and resilient. Pakistan-China friendship is a historic choice of both peoples that serves the interests of the two countries. The Chinese side reiterated that relations with Pakistan will always be given the highest priority in its foreign policy. The Pakistani side underscored that Pakistan-China relationship is the cornerstone of its foreign policy and that the Pakistani people always support the closest friendship between the two countries.

(7) Both sides reiterated their mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests. The Pakistani side expressed its commitment to the one-China Policy and support on issues of Taiwan, South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet. The Chinese side reaffirmed its support for Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, security, and promoting its socio-economic development and prosperity.

(8) The Chinese leadership expressed condolences and sympathies on recent loss of life and property as a result of the unprecedented floods in Pakistan. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed appreciation for the timely and generous assistance extended by the government and people of China, including the provision of disaster relief supplies, the contributions of Chinese expert teams on post-disaster assessment and health care to assist with damage assessment, experience sharing in post-disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation, and post-disaster disease response to step up capacity of medical treatment. China’s mobilization of assistance was a vivid reflection of the time-tested All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership between the two countries.

(9) Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif briefed the Chinese leadership on the post-flood relief and rehabilitation efforts. The Chinese side expressed its resolve to stand by Pakistan in these difficult times and to continue offering assistance to Pakistan in the latter’s plans for rehabilitation of the affected areas.

(10) Both sides reviewed with satisfaction the outcomes of the three sessions of the Foreign Minister’s Strategic Dialogue and agreed to hold its next meeting at the earliest possible in the first half of 2023 in Islamabad.

(11) The two sides noted the key role of various bilateral cooperation mechanisms for deepening strategic communication and welcomed the holding of the Spokespersons Dialogue and the Consultations on Arms Control and Disarmament.

(12) Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reaffirmed his Government’s willingness to commit to high quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and highlighted the salience of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project under BRI, to Pakistan’s economic and social development.

(13) The leaders took note of the convening of the 11th CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) on 27 October 2022, which reviewed the progress of ongoing projects and agreed to continue the momentum of CPEC’s high-quality development.

(14) Recognizing that ML-1 is a project of key significance under the CPEC framework and of importance to Pakistan’s socio-economic development, the two sides agreed to build upon the leadership consensus and to advance the process of its earliest implementation. They also agreed to actively advance the Karachi Circular Railway, which was an urgent requirement for Pakistan’s biggest city.

(15) Recognizing the significance of the Gwadar port as the leading project of CPEC and an important node in cross regional connectivity, both sides expressed satisfaction on the completion of key projects and agreed to speed up progress on other related projects of the Gwadar port and free zone.

(16) In line with the leadership’s consensus to accelerate cooperation in the areas of agriculture, mining, IT, socio-economic development under CPEC, the two sides agreed to further build on the health, industry, digital and green corridors launched earlier this year and carry out relevant cooperation.

(17) The Chinese side appreciates the efforts of the Pakistani government to vigorously develop renewable energy projects including solar projects which aligns with the green, low carbon and environmental development of energy sector, and encourages participation of Chinese companies in this Pakistani endeavor.

(18) The two sides agreed to actively promote the implementation of Framework Agreement on Industrial Cooperation to support Pakistan’s industrial development.

(19) Both sides expressed their strong determination to counter all threats and designs against CPEC and Pakistan-China friendship. Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to the safety and security of all Chinese personnel, projects and institutions in Pakistan. The Chinese side appreciated Pakistan’s strong determination and vigorous measures in this regard.

(20) Noting completion of a decade of CPEC’s remarkable achievements in 2023, the two sides expressed satisfaction at CPEC’s contribution to socio-economic development of the two countries.

(21) The two sides noted that the recent meeting of CPEC Joint Working Group on International Cooperation and Coordination (ICC) had highlighted that CPEC was an open and inclusive platform. Both sides welcomed interested third parties to benefit from investment opportunities in the priority areas of CPEC cooperation such as industry, agriculture, IT, science and technology, and oil and gas.

(22) The two sides noted the steady increase in bilateral trade volume since the operationalization of the second phase of the Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement. Both sides resolved to further coordinate to enhance trade liberalization under the second phase of CPFTA and agreed to convene an early meeting of Committee on Trade in Goods.

(23) The Chinese side expressed willingness to actively support the Pakistani side in expanding export to China and welcomed quality goods including food and agricultural products from Pakistan to enter the Chinese market. It was further agreed to encourage investments and partnerships in the export-oriented sectors of Pakistan which would contribute to achieving sustainable bilateral trade growth. The two sides agreed to conduct a Joint Study to further enhance bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

(24) The two sides agreed to fully leverage overland trade and exchanges by upgrading facilities at Khunjerab border port and strengthening cooperation on epidemic containment and customs clearance in border areas. They also agreed to work together to further strengthen the implementation of the Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA), which is an important pillar of regional connectivity.

(25) Acknowledging the massive size of China’s e-commerce market and its potential to further bolster bilateral trade, the two sides welcomed the signing of an MOU on e-commerce and jointly supported the establishment of Pakistan’s country pavilions on China’s e-commerce platforms. The two sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation on online payment systems, logistics, warehousing and customs facilitation, and enhance collaboration between start-ups and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

(26) The two sides noted that the first meeting of the China-Pakistan Joint Working Group on Trade, Investment and E-commerce and the China-Pakistan Poverty Reduction and Social Development Forum were held this year, and exchanges and docking activities in the pharmaceutical, agricultural and shoe-making industries as well as capacity building courses on poverty reduction were organized. China is willing to continue relevant practical cooperation with Pakistan to contribute to poverty reduction and socioeconomic development in Pakistan.

(27) The Pakistani side commended China’s remarkable achievement of lifting over 800 million people out of absolute poverty. Noting the displacement of millions of people due to the recent floods in Pakistan, the Chinese side agreed to support the Pakistani government in recovering the economy in disaster-hit areas, including through the Benazir Income Support Program.

(28) The two sides agreed to keep in close communication to provide further facilitation for Pakistani students to come to China. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif thanked the Chinese leadership for the return of Pakistani students to Chinese education institutions.

(29) The two sides agreed to inject new impetus into people-to-people contacts, tourism cooperation and cultural exchanges between the two countries, appreciated the role of the cultural cooperation agreement between the two governments and its executive programmes and welcomed the extension of the current executive programme to 2027.

(30) The two sides further welcomed the decision to celebrate Pakistan-China Year of Tourism Exchanges in 2023 and the organization of a Gandhara Art Exhibition at the Palace Museum in Beijing in 2022-2023.

(31) Noting the gradual resumption of flight operation between the two countries, the two sides agreed to further increase the frequency of direct flights including between Islamabad and Beijing in due course.

(32) Both sides expressed satisfaction with the close cooperation, trust and communication between the armed forces of the two countries. Underscoring that stronger strategic defence and security cooperation between China and Pakistan is an important factor of peace and stability in the region, the two sides agreed to maintain high-level mil-to-mil visits and exchanges and deepen cooperation in areas of training, joint exercises and military technology.

(33) The two sides condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and expressed opposition to the politicization of the issue of counter terrorism. China recognized Pakistan’s contributions and sacrifices in the fight against terrorism. The two sides agreed to further enhance counter terrorism cooperation to promote international peace and security.

(34) The two sides reiterated that a peaceful and prosperous South Asia is in the common interest of all parties. They emphasized the importance of resolving all outstanding disputes through sincere dialogue. The Pakistani side briefed the Chinese side on the situation in Jammu & Kashmir. The Chinese side reiterated that the Kashmir issue was a dispute left from history that should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.

(35) On Afghanistan, the two sides agreed that a peaceful, prosperous, interconnected and stable Afghanistan is fundamental to regional prosperity and progress. They expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the three Foreign Ministers’ meetings of the six neighbouring countries of Afghanistan and looked forward to the next meeting to be held in Uzbekistan.

(36) The two sides underscored the need for the international community to provide continued assistance and support to Afghanistan including through unfreezing of Afghanistan’s overseas financial assets. The two sides agreed to continue their humanitarian and economic assistance for the Afghan people and enhance development cooperation in Afghanistan, including through CPEC’s extension to Afghanistan.

(37) Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and agreed to jointly promote multilateralism, free trade and win-win cooperation. They expressed satisfaction with their close cooperation at multilateral fora and are resolved to further deepen strategic communication, coordination and consultation.

(38) The Pakistani side expressed support for the Global Development Initiative (GDI) put forward by the Chinese side. The two sides identified development as a key driver in ensuring the prosperity of nations. In this context they agreed to further enhance cooperation within the GDI framework for realization of SDGs. China expressed appreciation to Pakistan for participating in the Group of Friends of GDI as one of the pioneering members, and identified Pakistan as a priority partner under the GDI.

(39) The Pakistani side expressed support for the Global Security Initiative (GSI) put forward by the Chinese side as it aligned with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The two sides agreed to promote international cooperation in this regard.

(40) The two sides supported consensus-based reform of the UN to respond to the interests and concerns of all Member States.

(41) The two sides underlined to further strengthen coordination and collaboration within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and jointly push for deeper SCO cooperation across the political, security, business, connectivity and people-to-people fields, so as to better serve the common interests of regional countries, and make greater contributions to safeguarding regional peace and stability, promoting prosperity and development, and improving global governance.

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