South Asia

China to support Pakistan’s attempts to stabilize its economy: Xi

Photo: Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jingping on Wednesday said during a meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that his country will continue to support Pakistan as it tries to stabilize its economy.

Pakistan had been struggling with a balance of payments crisis even before devastating floods hit the country this summer, causing it an estimated $30 billion or more in losses.

Pakistan was expected to seek debt relief from China, particularly the rolling over of bilateral debt of around $23 billion.

China’s central bank and the National Bank of Pakistan signed a memorandum of cooperation recently for the establishment of RMB clearing arrangement in Pakistan, in a bid to facilitate the use of RMB for cross-border transactions by enterprises and financial institutions in both countries, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said on Wednesday as quoted by Reuters.

In a meeting with the Pakistani leader, Xi said China and Pakistan should also move forward more effectively with the construction of their economic corridor, as well as accelerate the construction of infrastructure for the Gwadar Sea Port.

China has been involved in major mining and infrastructure projects in Pakistan, including the deep-water Gwadar port, all part of the $65 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Xi added that the countries should work together to create conditions for the early implementation of the Mainline-1 (ML-1) railway upgrading project and the Karachi Circular Railway project.

China will also export technology for a 160 km/h high-speed railway train to Pakistan, state broadcaster CCTV said on Wednesday.

The developments and projects in Pakistan, a longtime Chinese ally, are part of Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to improve China’s road, rail and sea routes with the rest of the world.

China has also welcomed Pakistan’s move to expand high-quality agricultural exports to the country, and is willing to deepen cooperation in areas including the digital sector, e-commerce, photovoltaic and other new energy sources, Xi said.

Sharif, who is currently on an official visit to China, was one of the first leaders to meet Xi since he secured a third term as leader of the ruling Communist Party last month.