Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will attend the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 to show solidarity with China and to further strengthen Pakistan-China strategic partnership.

PM Khan is the second leader after Russian President Putin to indicate his attendance at the Winter Olympics to show support to China against the politicisation of sports and the US-led diplomatic boycott. Despite the diplomatic boycott by officials, the athletes of Western countries will still compete. Nearly 3,000 athletes from 90 countries and regions will participate in the Olympics. Alpine skier Mohammad Karim will be Pakistan’s only athlete to take part in the games that will begin on Feb. 4 and run through Feb. 20 in the capital city Beijing and neighbouring Hebei province.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan and China have always stood by each other in difficult times, adding that the “main purpose of the visit is to express solidarity with China” amid diplomatic boycott by some countries and to strengthen ties with one-on-one meetings and negotiations with Chinese officials.

Pakistani prime minister will be in China from Feb. 3-5 and is scheduled to meet China’s President, Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. Earlier this week, PM Khan was briefed about the ongoing discussions with Chinese officials on future cooperation in the fields of trade and investment, and technology to bolster the country’s exports. Pakistan’s exports to China increased 69 per cent in 2021 to $3.58 billion, according to official data.

The visit is also aimed at strengthening Pakistan-China all weather strategic cooperative partnership and exchanging views on regional and international issues. The $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will remain the focus of discussions as Islamabad looks forward to advancing joint ventures and increasing trade and investment volume with Beijing to improve economic stability.

Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf recently said that CPEC has made “significant progress on the ground.” Energy and infrastructure development were the priority in the first phase but now the CPEC is entering its second phase, which is “critical for industrialisation in Pakistan and connectivity between China, Pakistan and the rest of the world.”