Joint-Session of Parliament called to include Chinese President
BEIJING: President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, due on a two-day visit to pakistan with project and finances enhancing Pakistan-China relationship in the region, will address a joint session of Pakistan's Parliament.
President Xi's, expected on April 20, will focus on a Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, a planned $46-billion worth network of roads, railways and energy projects linking Pakistan's deepwater Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with China's far-western Xinjiang region, a senior diplomat said on Friday.
It would shorten the route for China’s energy imports, bypassing the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia, a bottleneck at risk of blockade in wartime.
Also being finalised is a long-discussed plan to sell Pakistan eight Chinese submarines. The deal, worth between $4 billion and $5 billion, according to media reports, may be among those signed on the trip.
Pakistan and China often boast of being “iron brothers” and two-way trade grew to $10 billion last year from $4 billion in 2007, Pakistani data shows.
Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao said the project would be good for Pakistan’s economic development, but would not be drawn on financing details.
“Several different facets will be utilised for the financing of these projects. Both sides will increase cooperation, to jointly provide financing support,” he told a news briefing.
China announced last year it would contribute $40 billion to set up the Silk Road infrastructure fund to boost connectivity across Asia. The Beijing-founded AIIB will also invest in regional infrastructure.
But recently Liu concluded, “As to whether the AIIB or the Silk Road fund will be used, at present these (projects) are being looked into, or are in the planning stages. So at the moment we are not considering using these mechanisms or platforms or financial organizations to provide financing.”
“The money needed is quite large, and China is willing to provide financing support to Pakistan,” he added, saying details would be released during the visit.
Xi’s trip is his first outside of the country this year, and also the first visit by a Chinese head of state to Pakistan in nine years.
Beijing, concerned about stability in its far western region of Xinjiang, has long urged Islamabad to weed out what it says are Islamist separatists from there holed up in a lawless tribal belt on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, home to a mix of militant groups.
Liu said that said China and Pakistan had very effective cooperation in tackling the militants, and Beijing approved of Islamabad’s “resolute and decisive” actions on the problem.
Xi’s trip will also include Indonesia, where he will attend the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference, a gathering of Asian and African leaders opposed to colonialism.
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