Economic corridor in focus as Pakistan, China sign 51 MoUs
| MATEEN HAIDER | IRFAN HAIDER
The first visit by a Chinese president to Pakistan after nine years is being dubbed as fate-changing. —AFP
ISLAMABAD: A historic ceremony was organised at the Prime Minister's Office on Monday, where Pakistan and China signed 51 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) relating to diverse aspects of bilateral relations, including the Pakistan China Economic Corridor.
The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chinese President Xi Jinping and high-level officials from both sides. A few agreements were signed by dignitaries from both countries in front of media personnel, after which Nawaz Sharif and Xi Jinping shared their views on the historic gathering and bilateral relations.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jinping inaugurate projects through video link at PM Office. —APP
In his speech, Nawaz Sharif welcomed the Chinese leader and referred to China as an all-weather friend. “There have been critical changes in China and Pakistan, and major regional and international development, but our ties have remained robust. Four generations of our leaders and people have sustained them with passion and wisdom.”
“This corridor will benefit all provinces and areas in Pakistan, and transform our country into a regional hub and pivot for commerce and investment. It will also enable China to create a shorter and cheaper route for trade and investment in south, central and west Asia, and the Middle East and Africa. This corridor will become a symbol for peace and prosperity.”
He said President Xi Jinping's visit to Pakistan was a watershed in the history of Pakistan-China relations.
"Together with President Xi we have taken momentous decisions that will raise Pakistan-China relations to new heights and have deep impacts for our common economic future, and peace and stability in the region.”
He said the two sides had also discussed regional and international developments, and agreed to make coordinated efforts for peace and security in the region.
President Xi and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif overlook the signing of agreements between the two countries.─AFP
President Xi Jinping in his address said China is prepared and willing to help strengthen Pakistan's capacity to fight terrorism.
The building of the Pakistan China Economic Corridor has an important bearing on national strategies and livelihoods of the two countries, he said.
The two sides believe that the layout and construction of the corridor should take into account the interest of various regions of Pakistan so that the building of the corridor will benefit people, said Xi.
“Of all the cooperation documents that Prime Minister Sharif and I signed, or witnessed the signing of, more than 30 of them concern the corridor,” he added.
“They include the facilities of the Gwadar port, the second phase of the upgrading project for the Karakoram highway, the motorway project between Karachi and Lahore, the rail transportation Orange line project of Lahore and other major transportation infrastructure projects and a series of energy projects,” Xi said.
"These projects span across the provinces and areas of Pakistan and the two sides have also made it clear that they will include the central and western lines of the corridor in the long and midterm plans, and I believe this will help the comprehensive balance and steady growth of the corridor building," said the Chinese president.
The Chinese side continues to support Pakistan's economic and social development, he added.
He said the two sides agreed to strengthen communication and coordination on Afghanistan in order to jointly push ahead the Afghan reconciliation process and play a constructive role to achieve peace and stability in the country and region.
Xi read an old saying in Chinese that said, "When brothers are united in their purpose, they become strong enough to pierce through metals."
He also reciprocated PM Nawaz Sharif's sentiments on Pakistan and China having strong historic ties, and said China is willing to work in close cooperation with Pakistan to benefit masses of the two countries.
Cooperation in civil nuclear energy agreed
Pakistan and China have agreed to continue bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear energy under IAEA safeguards, in line with their respective bilateral and multilateral commitments.
"China appreciates and supports steps taken by Pakistan towards its mainstreaming into the global non-proliferation regime," a joint communiqué issued from foreign office said.
The communiqué said China welcomes Pakistan’s engagement with the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and is ready to strengthen communication and coordination with Pakistan.
Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to multilateral non-discriminatory arms control and non-proliferation endeavours.
On security and counter terrorism the two sides believed that the security interests of Pakistan and China are closely interconnected, said the communiqué.
China commended Pakistan’s major contribution to the international counter-terrorism efforts, and said it will continue to support Pakistan in implementing its counter-terrorism strategy in accordance with its national conditions.
Following Chinese President Xi Jinping's maiden visit to Pakistan, both sides held delegation-level talks at the PM House, where President Xi admired PM Nawaz’s efforts, saying the far-reaching reforms he initiated were crucial for Pakistan.
The Chinese president also said PM Nawaz is highly experienced and that his struggle against terrorism is extremely admirable.
Pakistani and Chinese delegations held formal talks at the PM Office, in which all aspects of bilateral relations between the two countries were reviewed.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif led the Pakistani side in the talks, while the Chinese side was led by President Xi Jinping.
PM Nawaz, during his opening remarks, formally welcomed Xi Jinping on his first ever visit to Pakistan and hoped that the visit would further consolidate the already strong ties between the two countries.
Official sources told DawnNews that during the meeting, in addition to bilateral ties, both leaders also reviewed regional and international issues of mutual concern, including the regional security situation with respect to Afghanistan and the Middle East.
Senior cabinet members and officials from both sides assisted their leadership in the talks.
Earlier, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had said that the two-day visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping will usher in a new era of development in Pakistan.
Talking to the top executives of three leading Chinese companies, China Huaneng Group, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Zonergy Corporation at the prime minister house, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the government would extend all possible facilitation to the Chinese companies to ensure timely completion of the planned projects.
The premier appreciated the role of the companies for undertaking various projects in Pakistan including ones that are part of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (PCEC) Project.
He said that Pakistan is facing acute shortage of energy and the government has made a commitment to the people of Pakistan to meet this shortage during its tenure, hence a lot of emphasis is being laid on timely completion of these projects, particularly those in the energy sector.
Nawaz was pleased to note that ICBC, the largest bank in the world, will look into the possibility of setting up economic zones in Pakistan.
Leaders of the Chinese delegation said the strong Pakistan-China friendship provides an excellent platform for boosting business relations between the two countries and said they are pleased to be part of building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Military heads call on Chinese president
Heads of armed forces including the chairman joint chiefs of staff committee (CJCSC) met President Xi Jinping and discussed with him matters related to defence and security.
CJCSC General Rashad Mahmood, army chief General Raheel Sharif, Naval chief Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah and Air Chief Marshal Sohail Amaan during the meeting thanked the Chinese president for ongoing Chinese cooperation with the armed forces of Pakistan.
Political leaders meet Xi Jinping
Prominent political leaders including Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan Peoples Party, Liqat Baloch of Jamaat-i-Islami, Chaudhary Shujjat Hussain of PML-Q, Farooq Sattar of Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Aftab Sherpao of Qaumi Watan Party, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch met visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Islamabad.
They welcomed Chinese president on his first ever visit to Pakistan and discussed with him issues related to bilateral relations and cooperation between Pakistani and Chinese parliamentarians.
Chinese president arrives in Islamabad on historic visit
Chinese President Mr Xi Jinping and the First Lady Peng Liyuan wave upon their arrival in the capital amid a grand welcome. —AFP
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Islamabad on his maiden visit to Pakistan on Monday. The much anticipated visit is the first by a Chinese president to Pakistan after nine years.
The Chinese president was received at the Noor Khan airbase by President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif and members of the prime minister's cabinet.
Accompanying the Chinese president is a high-level delegation comprising businessmen, high-level functionaries of the Communist Party of China and senior government officials.
A 21-gun salute and guard of honour was presented to welcome the Chinese president.
Children clad in colourful traditional clothes waved Pakistani and Chinese flags and sang anthems of Pakistan-China friendship as the Chinese President and the first lady passed by, Radio Pakistan reported.
The Chinese President shook hands with the children who also showered rose petals on the visiting guest. Traditional folk dance was also presented on the occasion.
President Xi Jinping waves at children greeting him upon arrival at Nur Khan air base. —AFP
Chinese president was received by President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif and other members of cabinet. —DawnNews screengrab
COAS Gen Raheel Sharif welcomes Mr Jinping. —AFP
Guard of honour being presented to the Chinese president. —AFP
Banners reading "Pakistan-China Friendship Zindabad", portraits of the Chinese and Pakistani presidents and flags of the two countries waving across Constitution Avenue welcomed Mr Jinping to the capital.
Mr Jinping's visit is being dubbed as a ‘fate-changing visit’ as he is expected to roll out nearly $28 billion for the first phase of the $45bn flagship Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (PCEC) Project.
Source Link: http://www.dawn.com/news/1177109/economic-corridor-in-focus-as-pakistan-china-sign-51-mous