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Pakistan PM Sharif to visit China


Pakistan PM Sharif to visit China

Photo: Pakistan Prime Minister's Office/AFP

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif begins a five-day visit to China today.

Sharif will meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang, as well as business executives from Chinese energy and technology companies. He is expected to seek political support for improving bilateral economic cooperation, mainly through the existing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. China has invested heavily in the $65 billion CPEC, which connects Pakistan’s southern shores with China’s Xinjiang region in the north through the construction of roads, railroads, ports, oil pipelines, and power plants.

CPEC has thus far not delivered the promised economic success, and private investors have remained hesitant to partake in it. One major concern has been terrorism, stemming from both islamist and secessionist insurgencies. Militants have repeatedly attacked Chinese companies in Pakistan, including a recent suicide bombing that ended up killing six Chinese engineers.

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Sharif will likely announce new projects as part of the CPEC over the coming days. However, its future remains uncertain and Beijing will expect serious commitments by Islamabad to safeguard Chinese citizen’s lives there. Given Pakistan’s dependence on Chinese loans and infrastructure projects for the development of its economy, Pakistan’s military is likely to enhance its fight against militants in the coming months. Nonetheless, Beijing will want to continue close relations with Islamabad, as Pakistan is an important diplomatic ally and frequently supports China on the international stage.

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