ISLAMABAD – Pakistan and China signed 51 investment agreements on the first day of the visit by the Chinese President to the South Asian country, as the two “all-weather allies” pledged to take their economic and strategic ties to new heights.
“The most prominent hallmarks of our relations are consistency and resilience,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told a press conference flanked by Chinese President Xi Jinping after leading their respective delegations at the talks in Islamabad.
Most of the agreements related to the $45 billion Pakistan China Economic Corridor which, the two countries said, would transform Pakistan into a regional hub and facilitate Chinese access to markets in South, Central and Western Asia, and to the Middle East and Africa.
“With President Xi, we have taken momentous decisions that will raise Pakistan and China relations to new height and will have deep and far-reaching impact for our common economic future,” Sharif said after the talks held at the Prime Minister House.
President Xi said the economic corridor will have important impact on national strategies and livelihoods of the two countries. “Of all the cooperation document that Prime Minister Sharif and I signed, or witnessed the signing of, more than 30 of them concern to corridor,” he added.
President Xi and Prime Minister Sharif then unveiled the plaque featuring eight projects as part of the agreements signed.
The two leaders did not give the total amount of the projects but Pakistan’s Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal told a press conference a day earlier that agreements worth $28 billion will be signed during the Chinese President’s two-day visit, the first by any Chinese top leader in nine years.
The contracts are part of the economic corridor project that would link China to Pakistan’s strategic Gawadar Port through a network of highways, railways and pipelines. The route will be used as a “primary gateway for trade between China and the Middle East,” the official APP news agency quoted Iqbal as saying.
Under the corridor plan, Chinese companies will invest $22.5 billion in coal-fired hydro, wind and solar energy projects in Pakistan. Other projects including building of metro rail in Pakistan’s metropolitan city of Lahore.
The visit will “usher in a new era” in ties between Pakistan and China, Sharif told delegations of three leading Chinese companies earlier which included Huaneng Group, ICBC Corporation and Zonergy Corporation.
Earlier, on his arrival, President Xi was accorded a warm welcome by President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Sharif and Army Chief Raheel Sharif.