Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in China on Tuesday on a two-day official visit. Image Credit: PTI social media

Dubai: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived in China on official visit but they went separately.

While Pakistan’s Army Chief General Bajwa arrived in Beijing on Monday, Imran landed there on Tuesday to start his official visit.

While Imran Khan and his delegates will meet businessmen and Chinese officials, Pakistan’s army chief General Bajwa is meeting the top military officials to discuss the security situation in the region and the tension between India and Pakistan over Kashmir issue.

A top diplomat told Gulf News that both Prime Minister Imran and General Bajwa are trying to convince China to stand by Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as it has badly hit the secuirty and financial situation in the country. "They are again falling back on China to handle the Kashmir issue after the US and other countries refrained from openly supporting Pakistan and putting pressure on India," he said, adding that Pakistan has great hope from this official visit by the prime minister and the army chief. 

This is Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s third visit to China in less than a year with an hope to increase Chinese investment to Pakistan and to reinvigorate the US$60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Imran leading a high level delegation arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for an official two-day visit, confirmed Pakistan Foreign Office.

According to a Foreign Office (FO), Prime Minister Imran was received by China’s Culture Minister Luo Shugang, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing and Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Naghmana Hashmi.

He was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Khusro Bakhtiar and Chairman Board of Investment Zubair Gillani. Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, Adviser to Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industries, Production and Investment Abdul Razzak Dawood and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar are also part of his delegation.

During his visit, Imran is scheduled to meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing to discuss the security situation in the disputed region of Kashmir as well as economic ties.

“The visit will be instrumental in further cementing Pakistan’s economic, investment and strategic ties with China,” PM Office said in a statement.

His visit will also include talks on the progress of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the $60 billion infrastructure programme China launched in Pakistan as part of its flagship “Belt and Road” project.

Ahead of Imran’s, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived in China on an official visit, the military’s media wing said.

The army chief is scheduled to meet the Chinese military leadership including the Peoples Liberation Army commander, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission and commander Southern Theater Command.

General Bajwa will also join Prime Minister Imran’s meetings with the Chinese premier and President Xi, Inter-Services Public Relations said.

A number of agreements are expected to be signed at a ceremony to be witnessed by the two prime ministers, according to APP.

Imran will exchange views on regional developments including the state of peace and security in South Asia arising from the situation in Indian Administered Kashmir since August 5 this year.

CPEC project

Pakistan has been one of the largest beneficiaries of China’s Belt & Road Initiative, Xi’s flagship program to build a network of railways, ports, pipelines and highways linking Asia, Europe and Africa. China has financed billions of dollars of power and road projects in Pakistan, boosting infrastructure in the South Asian nation but also saddling it with debt.

While most of the early projects have now been completed, the second phase of the program has been slow to start. Official data shows foreign direct investment from China plunged 77% to $461 million in the fiscal year through June from $2 billion in the previous year.

Debt problem

Pakistan’s debt problems, which led the government to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund once again, have also prompted the nation to scale back some projects, reported Bloomberg. Pakistan owes China more than double what it owes the IMF over the next three years.

Upgrading Pakistan railways

China’s ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, however, recently said the economic corridor projects between the two nations are “running according to our satisfaction and there is no slowdown in it.” Pakistan has reduced its Chinese loans to upgrade a colonial-era railway by $2 billion to $6.2 billion, and wants to cut it down by another $2 billion, according to the nation’s railways minister Shaikh Rashid.

He said that during the visit an agreement was expected to be finalised for the upgradation of railway track from Peshawar to Karachi.

The CPEC, which connects China’s Xinjiang province with the strategic Gwadar Port in Balochistan, is the flagship project of President Xi’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The 3,000-kilometer project is aimed at connecting China and Pakistan with rail, road, pipelines and optical fibre cable networks.

General Bajwa’s meetings

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), media wing of Pakistan military,

During this meeting, COAS General Bajwa apprised Chinese military leadership about consequences of the ongoing situation in Indian Administered Kashmir, and said that India needed to respect United Nations resolution in this regard and ensure provision of human rights to Kashmiris.

“Chinese military leadership supported Pakistan’s principled stance on Kashmir issue, and appreciated sane Pakistani approach in the interest of peace,” the ISPR press release stated on Tuesday.

ISPR also said that in the meeting, the two sides agreed that continued Pak-India tension would have serious implications for peace and stability in the region.

The media wing of the military also told the media that the COAS apprised the Chinese military leadership about the peace efforts made by Pakistan, and said that the efforts would not be at the cost of any compromise on principles or honour and dignity of the nation.

Both sides also discussed the developing situation in Gulf and efforts for peace in Afghanistan, the press release stated. They also agreed to enhance existing defence cooperation in line with history of mutual time tested relationship.