Pakistan’s Imran Khan travels to China to renegotiate terms of CPEC

Pakistan’s Imran Khan travels to China to renegotiate terms of CPEC

Imran Khan will be in Beijing today to drum up much needed economic support and meet with Xi Jinping before

pakistan china khan

Photo: David Gray/Reuters

Imran Khan will be in Beijing today to drum up much needed economic support and meet with Xi Jinping before leaving on Monday. The trip is Mr Khan’s first to China since assuming the prime ministership in August.

Khan will seek a renegotiation of the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project—the flagship program in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The PM will be looking to rework the financing details of CPEC—specifically interest rate cuts––which have been criticised as leaving Pakistan too heavily burdened with debt.

Despite the asymmetrical power dynamics between the two countries, Khan could be well positioned to emerge with a concession or two come Monday. Progress on CPEC has stalled since Khan assumed the presidency, and China is keen to demonstrate to other Asian countries that Belt and Road projects are not debt traps.

Of course, an agreeable Beijing would expect Islamabad to double down on its already close relationship in return. As closer relations with Pakistan provides a means of containing India and distancing the US from a former ally, making short-term concessions on CPEC could mean long-term gains for China.

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