Pakistan, China to maintain close engagement on regional, global issues

Rising Kashmir

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan begins a four-day visit to China on Friday to shore up support for a financial bailout that the South Asian nation desperately needs.

China on Thursday sought to defend the proposed bus service with Pakistan through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or PoK, saying its cooperation with Islamabad has nothing to do with the territorial dispute and will not change its principled stance on the Kashmir issue. The friendship between the two countries has stood the test of time and has always enjoyed strong vitality.

He also said more projects relating to "industrial cooperation" will come up in more areas of Pakistan.

The joint statement also elaborated on the overall agreements reached between the two countries about expanding CPEC, setting up a foreign minister's strategic dialogue mechanism and strengthening cooperation between China and Pakistan in several sectors including social sectors.

"CPEC is a blessing for Pakistan, it's very important for the country, it's an opportunity to attract investments", he said.

The two sides firmly move forward the CPEC, while ensuring the smooth operations of the completed projects and advancing the ongoing projects, he said.

Some ministers in Khan's new government have expressed concerns over the Chinese investments in Pakistan, with one slashing the budget of a rail project by $2 billion.

They also agreed to task the CPEC's Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) with formulating ideas to explore new areas of cooperation.

PM Imran lauded China's phenomenal achievements in reducing poverty and alleviating corruption, and said Pakistan wished to learn from its progress.

Many people in Pakistan believe that Imran Khan is a reformist. The Prime Minister has described Xi as a "role model owing to his vision and leadership".

The prime minister extended an invitation to President Xi Jinping to visit Pakistan, which was accepted.

Khan is visiting China on the invitation of Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

No country [other than China] has lifted 700 million out of poverty in 30 years, he observed.

Beijing has maintained the CPEC projects are economic ventures and not targeted against "any third country", meaning India. "It is easy to catch low-level criminals but it is much more challenging to expose white-collar crime which actually devastates a country", he added. "These relations have not only benefited the two all-weather strategic partners but the region and world".

While China continues to be Pakistan's biggest foreign investor and aid donor, it is also working to increase liquidity amid its trade war against the US.

In his meeting with Li, Khan invited the Chinese premier to visit Pakistan and see for himself the difference the mega-project has made in the country.

This was reaffirmed during a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and China's State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing.

China has repeatedly said that the Indian-Pakistani territorial dispute had to be settled through dialogue between the two sides.

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