Shehbaz reaches China with ‘CPEC revitalisation’ in focus

Marriyum says PM’s visit to set a new milestone for CPEC

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday landed in Beijing on a two-day official visit to meet Chinese leadership and review all-weather strategic cooperation partnership, besides discussing regional and global developments.

On his arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport, the prime minister was given a red carpet welcome as the smartly-turned-out contingents of the Chinese forces presented him with the guard of honour, a PM Office statement said. During his first official visit to China after assuming office, the prime minister will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

He is heading a high-level delegation that includes Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Railways Minister Saad Rafique, special assistants as well as Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. He is among the first leaders to visit China following the historic 20th National Congress of the Communist Party (CPC) of China that elected Xi Jinping as general secretary of the party. Shehbaz is also scheduled to meet Chinese investors and Pakistani businessmen.

The visit is expected to advance the wide-ranging bilateral cooperation agenda with the conclusion of a number of MoUs/agreements in diverse areas, and consolidate the momentum of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) cooperation in the wake of the 11th meeting of the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) held on October 27. Ahead of his departure, the premier tweeted: “Honoured to be among the first few leaders to have been invited after the historic 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.”

“At a time when the world is grappling with multiple challenges, Pakistan and China stand together as friends and partners,” he said. The prime minister said his discussions with the Chinese leadership would focus on the “revitalisation” of the CPEC “among many other things”.

“The second phase of CPEC promises to usher in a new era of socio-economic progress that will uplift [the] quality of our people’s lives. There is a lot to learn from [the] Chinese economic miracle,” he added.

Meanwhile, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the PM’s visit to China would be an “extremely important” one, adding “it will set a new milestone for the CPEC”.

In a video message, she lamented that several CPEC projects were delayed during the previous government’s tenure, adding that they had now been revived by the incumbent prime minister. She underlined that all administrative and procedural obstacles had been removed from the projects, saying “the new CPEC era is about to begin”. During his visit, the premier also hopes to expand trade and investment ties with the neighbouring country by making optimal use of the second phase of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement. “Pakistan can serve as the manufacturing base for China and an extension of its industrial and supply chain network,” the PM wrote in an opinion article published in Chinese newspaper Global Times on Sunday.

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