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Wednesday, February 28, 2024  
17 Shaban 1445  

Pakistan, China agree to remain engaged in expansion of CPEC

Both countries will also enhance ‘high-level engagements and dialogue mechanisms’
Foreign Secretary Asad M Khan and China’s Vice FM Sun Weidong led the respective delegations during third round of Pakistan and China Bilateral Political Consultations in Beijing on March 18, 2023. Photo via Twitter/ @ForeignOfficePk
Foreign Secretary Asad M Khan and China’s Vice FM Sun Weidong led the respective delegations during third round of Pakistan and China Bilateral Political Consultations in Beijing on March 18, 2023. Photo via Twitter/ @ForeignOfficePk

Pakistan and China have agreed to remain engaged in the participation of third parties in the multi-billion dollar economic corridor project, as both sides look to expand it.

The agreement was reached during the third round of Pakistan and China Bilateral Political Consultations in Beijing on Saturday. It is a regular institutional mechanism between Pakistan and China.

Foreign Secretary Asad M Khan and China’s Vice FM Sun Weidong led the respective delegations, said a statement issued on Sunday.

In the past, Pakistan has invited Saudi Arabia and Turkiye to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to reap the benefits of the project.

“I would suggest that let this be a cooperation between China, Pakistan and Turkiye. This would be a wonderful joint cooperation … This is how we can meet the challenges of today,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on his last trip to the country.

Pakistan and China reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and agreed to expand and “reinforce political and security cooperation, bilateral trade, economic and financial cooperation, cultural exchanges, tourism, and people-to-people ties.”

It added that Pakistan and China would also enhance high-level engagements and dialogue mechanisms and make the channels of communication even more robust.

The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to CPEC, which remains a major pillar of bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and China. “They also agreed to remain engaged in the expansion of CPEC including on participation of third parties to enhance regional connectivity and cooperation.”

Foreign Secretary Khan thanked the Chinese side for its “consistent and generous” support for the economic stability of Pakistan and the humanitarian assistance during the devastating floods in 2022.

So far, China has come up with financial support for cash-crunch Pakistan. The central bank reserves increased to more than $4.3 billion after the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China approved the rollover facility of $1.3 billion.

Islamabad’s talks with the International Monetary Fund “hinge on the materialisation“ of external commitments for the release of the funding under the stalled programme.

Pakistan needs $6 billion in new loans to bridge the financing gap, a concern raised by the International Monetary Fund during talks with Pakistan. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar have not yet given these loans despite repeated requests by Pakistan.

Moreover, the friendly country also sent supplies when Pakistan was hit by floods triggered by heavy rains last year.

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Sun reaffirmed on Saturday Beijing’s support for Islamabad’s “sovereignty, territorial integrity and economic security”.

The two sides also exchanged views on a range of regional and global issues of mutual interest and expressed “satisfaction over their close cooperation and engagement on important regional developments” including in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan and China will further strengthen dialogue and cooperation in multilateral platforms,” the statement said.

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