Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday assured Pakistan that Beijing would continue to support the South Asian country for sustainable economic development.
During a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at the Great Hall of the People in the capital Beijing, President Xi also announced an additional assistance package of RMB500 million ($68.6 million) for Pakistan’s post-flood relief and rehabilitation efforts.
Pakistan has been facing political and economic turmoil after recent destructive rains and floods killed hundreds of people, and washed away hundreds of thousands of houses, bridges, roads, and buildings across the South Asian country.
“China would continue to extend its support to Pakistan for sustainable economic development and to harness its potential as the geo-economic hub,” Xi was quoted in a statement issued from Prime Minister’s Office in the capital Islamabad.
Sharif, along with a high-level delegation, arrived in Beijing on Tuesday on his first two-day official visit to China.
Sharif also congratulated Xi on his re-election as the secretary general of the 20th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries and said the two nations have stood firmly side by side, in realizing their shared vision of peace, stability, development, and prosperity.
Sharif also reaffirmed that the Pakistan-China friendship enjoyed complete consensus across the political spectrum in Pakistan and was a model of inter-state relations.
The two leaders discussed cooperation across a range of issues, including defense, trade and investment, agriculture, health, education, green energy, science and technology, and disaster preparedness, and reaffirmed their mutual commitment to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The CPEC is estimated to be over $50 billion bilateral investment cooperation arrangement between Islamabad and Beijing since 2014.
China has already invested approximately $28 billion in various energy and infrastructure projects in the South Asian country, allowing the world's second-largest economy to reach the warm waters of the Arabian Sea via Gwadar Port in southwestern Balochistan province.
They also agreed to launch the Main Line-1 (ML-1) and Karachi Circular Railway projects under the CPEC, according to the statement.
The latest data from Beijing shows that bilateral trade between China and Pakistan has risen to $27.82 billion last year.
It added that 75,000 jobs were created in Pakistan through the CPEC while Pakistan donated 300,000 masks and 6,800 pairs of gloves to support China’s fight against COVID-19.
The two leaders also discussed the situation in Kashmir and Afghanistan and acknowledged that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan would promote regional security and economic development and agreed that the CPEC’s extension to Afghanistan would strengthen regional connectivity initiatives.
Sharif also extended an invitation to President Xi to visit Pakistan, which he accepted.