At a time when Pakistan is going through economic turmoil, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit China for two days, beginning Tuesday. His visit assumes significance as the Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to meet PM Modi at an informal summit near Chennai later next week. This will be Khan’s third official China visit since he assumed office in August 2018. He will hold detailed interactions on regional and bilateral issues when he meets the Chinese President. Moreover, a media report in Pakistan claimed that he would have a separate meeting with the PM of China, Li Keqiang.
Launched in 2015, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It was expected to bring in massive investment from China, creating thousands of job opportunities for the people of Pakistan. When Nawaz Sharif was the PM, several projects were close to completion. However, Khan’s regime has witnessed the stalling of the CPEC projects. This has been attributed to the dire economic situation and non-cooperation of the bureaucracy due to the prevailing fear of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Political instability has also hindered progress as the NAB has arrested leading opposition leaders in Pakistan. Chairing a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the Pakistan PM reportedly said that the timely completion of CPEC projects was a top priority for his government.
China has been repeatedly irking India with its actions like issuing a veto over the UN listing of Masood Azhar, backing Pakistan on the Kashmir issue and having the CPEC route through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Especially, CPEC has become a major irritant in the relationship between the two countries. Khan is also going to discuss enhancing cooperation with China in the agriculture, industrial and socio-economic sectors. Moreover, he is expected to mark his presence at the China-Pakistan Business Forum in Beijing on October 8.