China Assures Support As Imran Khan Talks Of

China Assures Support As Imran Khan Talks Of "Very Difficult" Economy

Troy Powers
November 3, 2018

Though China is Pakistan's closest ally, Khan's newly elected government has sought to re-think the two countries' signature project, the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which Beijing touts as the flagship infrastructure programme in its vast Belt and Road Initiative.

The loan and the investments were reportedly part of the $6 billion package.

But while neither leader mentioned economic aid in front of reporters, China's top diplomat guaranteed support from Beijing in a separate meeting with his Pakistani counterpart.

"Countries go in cycles".

"Unfortunately our country is going through a low point at the moment with two very big deficits, a fiscal deficit and a current account deficit", he said.

In a meeting with Chinese IDCPC Minister Song Tao in Beijing, he said such exchanges would ensure that the exceptional friendship between Pakistan and China endured from generation to generation.

Xi told Imran that he highly valued the two country's relations, reaffirming they were "all-weather" friends.

Fawad Chaudhry said that PM Imran's meeting with the Chinese president was successful. He also expressed support for Pakistan's new government in implementing its policies and promoting national development.

Earlier during his visit to Saudi Arabia, Riyadh committed Dollars 6 billion funding which included USD 3 billion deferred payment for oil imports.

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"After taking monetary and fiscal measures, in my opinion, our financing gap for this year will be around United States dollars 12 billion", he said.

Pakistan has taken out billions of dollars in loans from China in recent years for infrastructure projects, the terms of which remain largely undisclosed.

Khan's visit evoked considerable interest here as it comes in the wake of his past criticism of the Dollars 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects and remarks by his ministers to cut down some of the projects over debt concern.

USA secretary of state Mike Pompeo has expressed opposition to using International Monetary Fund money to repay Chinese loans.

Earlier, he hoped PM Imran Khan's first visit of China will open up new vistas of prosperity through expanding its exports to China and attracting more Chinese investment in the country.

China also agreed to address his concern that the CPEC projects were mainly benefitting the dominant Punjab region and the new projects will focus on the western region of Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

He would hold talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday after which both the countries would sign several agreements.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is accompanying the PM, met his counterpart, Wang Yi and discussed measures to further bolster bilateral relations in diverse fields, Radio Pakistan reported.

Andrew Small, a senior transatlantic fellow with the George Marshall Fund's Asia Program, said he believes China is willing to make adjustments, but Beijing needs to know what the administration's position is before it can make offers.