Xi in Pak­istan to un­veil US$45 bil. in in­vest­ments

The China Post - - GUIDE POST - BY ASIF SHAHZAD

Main­land Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping ar­rived in Pak­istan on Mon­day for a two-day visit in which he is ex­pected to an­nounce US$45 bil­lion (NT$1.395 tril­lion) worth of in­vest­ment projects in en­ergy and in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment.

Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif and the coun­try’s top civil­ian and mil­i­tary lead­er­ship re­ceived the vis­it­ing pres­i­dent at an air force base near the cap­i­tal, Islamabad. The pres­i­dent was given a mil­i­tary honor guard and a fighter jet fly-by.

Xi will an­nounce US$45 bil­lion worth of projects in the en­ergy and in­fra­struc­ture sec­tors, Pak­istan’s min­is­ter for plan­ning and devel­op­ment, Ah­san Iqbal, said, call­ing it “proof of our great bond with (main­land) China.” He said around US$37 bil­lion of that would be in­vested in en­ergy. He also clar­i­fied that the to­tal amount was US$45 bil­lion. Pak­istani of­fi­cials had pre­vi­ously put the to­tal at US$46 bil­lion.

Iqbal said work on US$28 bil­lion worth of projects can begin im­me­di­ately, with work on the re­main­der start­ing in the next three to five years. He called the agree­ments a “mile­stone in our his­tory.”

Sharif said the visit will open a new chap­ter in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions. “We will work hand in hand with you to re­move any ob­sta­cle in your way to en­sure timely com­ple­tion of the planned projects,” he said in a meet­ing with the heads of three Chi­nese com­pa­nies.

The Chi­nese main­land and Pak­istan have long main­tained close po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary rela- tions, based partly on mu­tual an­tipa­thy to­ward neigh­bor In­dia. How­ever, stronger China- In­dia ties have chal­lenged that per­cep­tion and Xi’s visit seems in­tended to re­as­sure Pak­istan that re­la­tions re­main ro­bust.

Xi post­poned a visit to Islamabad last year due to anti-gov­ern­ment protests and went ahead with a visit to In­dia. The main­land is also ea­ger to boost trade and in­vest­ment with New Delhi, and In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is ex­pected to visit Bei­jing in the com­ing weeks.

The main­land is a lead­ing arms sup­plier to Pak­istan and has sought its help in com­bat­ing anti-Chi­nese Is­lamic sep­a­ratists re­port­edly hid­ing in the coun­try’s law­less tribal ar­eas. Main­land China is also ea­ger to en­list Paki- stan’s help in sta­bi­liz­ing Afghanistan as U.S. and in­ter­na­tional troops wind down their pres­ence there.

Xi will be trav­el­ing with a large busi­ness del­e­ga­tion and is ex­pected to over­see the sign­ing of in­vest­ment agree­ments in the en­ergy and trans­porta­tion in­dus­tries, part of Bei­jing’s plan for a Chi­naPak­istan “eco­nomic cor­ri­dor.”

“This is very im­por­tant for our eco­nomic sta­bil­ity and devel­op­ment,” said po­lit­i­cal science pro­fes­sor Raul Bakhsh Rais.

AP

A Pak­istani mo­tor­cy­clist rides past a bill­board show­ing pic­tures of main­land China leader Xi Jin­ping, cen­ter, with Pak­istan’s Pres­i­dent Mam­noon Hus­sain, left, and Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif wel­com­ing Xi to Islamabad, Pak­istan on Sun­day, April 19.

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