Beijing, Nov 4 (UNI) China is willing to provide Pakistan with economic aid to help it deal with its deteriorating finances but more discussions are needed on the details, according to Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou.

The comments came on Saturday after a meeting between Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Khaleej Times reported.

“During the visit, the two sides have made it clear in principle that the Chinese government will provide necessary support and assistance to Pakistan in tiding over the current economic difficulties,” Kong said.

Pakistan’s foreign reserves have plunged 42 percent since the start of the year and now stand at about eight billion dollars, or less than two months of import cover.

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

China has pledged a total of more than Dollar 60 billion to Pakistan in the form of loans and investments for roads, ports, power plants and industrial parks to build what is termed the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.”

Speaking to reporters in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People following Khan’s talks with Li, Kong said his country would help.

“As for specific measures to be taken, the relevant authorities of the two sides will have detailed discussions,” he added.

The newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday that he had inherited “a very difficult economic situation” at home.

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

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.

“CPEC in 2013 was just an idea. Now, it is on the ground. And it has caught the imagination of the people of Pakistan. We feel that this a great opportunity for our country to progress, to attract investment. It gives us an opportunity to raise our standard of living, growth rate,” he said.

For his part, Li praised the relationship, saying “China and Pakistan are all-weather partners.”

Commenting on CPEC, Kong said there were no plans to scale back the economic corridor, but he added that it would be altered somewhat to “tilt in favour of areas relating to people’s lives”.


This post was published on November 4, 2018