ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday said Pakistan stood ready to work closely with China for realizing the shared vision of connectivity, prosperity and public well-being.
“Pakistan will continue to support Chinese investors with competitive incentives, access to high-quality infrastructure and unwavering security arrangements,” he said in a meeting with Yang Jiechi, Member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Director of its Foreign Affairs Commission.
Extending a warm welcome to Director Yang, the prime minister conveyed the most cordial greetings and best wishes for President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
The prime minister noted that Director Yang’s visit marked the continuation of high-level exchanges between Pakistan and China, which are the hallmark of the time-tested All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership between the two countries.
He recalled his extensive conversation with Premier Li Keqiang in May 2022, during which both leaders had reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and exchanged views on the regional and international situation.
PM Sharif underscored the significance of Director Yang’s visit for accelerating the implementation of the leaders’ consensus on further enhancing bilateral relations across all domains.
He highlighted that economic cooperation had become a mainstay of the wide-ranging Pakistan-China partnership.
He expressed satisfaction at growing bilateral trade and financial linkages, with China’s unstinting support playing an invaluable role in helping Pakistan offset external shocks to the global economy and demonstrating the continued resilience of Pakistan-China cooperation at a time of heightened uncertainty on the world stage.
The Prime Minister particularly thanked China for renewal of the RMB 15 billion (US $ 2.3 billion) syndicate facility.
He also thanked China for its support and assistance to Pakistan’s efforts towards preventing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic by providing millions of vaccine doses as well as protective and medical equipment.
Talks with Gen Bajwa
High-ranking Chinese politician Yang Jiechi on Wednesday pledged to help in reinvigorating ties with longstanding ally Pakistan as he opened his two-day trip to Islamabad with a meeting with Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa.
“He assured to play his role for further improvement in diplomatic cooperation with Pakistan at all levels,” the ISPR said after Mr Yang met Gen Bajwa at the General Headquarters.
Mr Yang, who is considered a personal representative of President Xi Jinping because of his position in Chinese hierarchy, is leading a high-level delegation comprising vice ministers for foreign affairs and commerce, vice chairman of China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), and deputy secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on the visit that is taking place at a crucial juncture in bilateral ties.
It was probably in this context that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif sent his special assistant and point man on foreign policy Tariq Fatemi to receive him at the airport.
Yang holds talks with Bilawal
While emphasising the significance of his trip, China experts say Mr Yang is ranked even higher than Foreign Minister Wang Yi. He has in the past represented China in National Security Advisers’ talks with the United States. Therefore, it is said that whatever demands and concerns he conveys and any commitments that he makes during his meetings here will be seen as coming directly from President Xi.
The bilateral relationship currently appears under deep stress because of growing terrorist attacks on Chinese citizens. Beijing is particularly concerned about the lack of progress in the prosecution of the April 26 attack in which three Chinese language teachers were killed in Karachi. It is said that neither the mastermind nor other major actors involved in the attack have been apprehended.
Mr Yang also met Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. “The two sides discussed entire spectrum of bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest,” the FO said in a statement. During the visit, Mr Yang will also call on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.