Imran Khan says friendship with China cornerstone of foreign policy; vows to complete CPEC

By PTI | Islamabad

Pakistan and China pledged on Sunday to complete the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on Khan and expressed desire to further enhance the bilateral strategic partnership

Imran Khan

The 'all-weather' friendship with China was a cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said as he pledged to implement the controversy-hit USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Pakistan and China pledged on Sunday to complete the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on Khan and expressed desire to further enhance the bilateral strategic partnership. Wang, who arrived here on a three-day visit on Friday, met Khan in Islamabad with a high-level delegation. "Foreign Minister underscored the significance of the CPEC for the mutual benefit of the people of both countries," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

Wang conveyed the desire of Chinese leadership to work with the new government for further enhancing the strategic partnership between Pakistan and China. He underscored the significance of China-Pakistan relationship which served as a model of friendship in interstate relations.

The two countries pledged to jointly promote the construction of the CPEC and push forward the development of bilateral ties. Pakistan's new president Arif Alvi said friendship with China is Pakistan's national policy and over the past more than five decades, Pakistan has always cherished the friendship with China, which is based on mutual benefit and is deeply rooted in the hearts of the two peoples.

Wang said the bilateral relations and friendship between China and Pakistan remain unchanged despite the changing domestic and international situation, adding that his visit was aimed at getting in touch with the new Pakistani government so as to continue and facilitate the bilateral cooperation in all fields.

Wang said China is willing to join hands with Pakistan to make the bilateral relations a model of good neighbourliness and friendship, a pillar of regional peace and stability and an example of joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

He also conveyed the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang for an official visit to Khan. Khan reiterated that Pakistan's friendship with China is a cornerstone of Pakistan's Foreign Policy. "The Prime Minister reiterated that the government is committed to the implementation of the CPEC," according to the statement. During the meeting, regional situation and global issues were also discussed.

Earlier, he met his counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Wang's visit came amidst reports of unease in Beijing over how the new PTI government would approach the USD 50 billion Chinese investments in various projects under the CPEC.

Khan in the past had criticised former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for the lack of transparency and corruption in the CPEC projects.
Newly-appointed Finance Minister Asad Umar has promised to bring about transparency to the CPEC projects whose details remained closely guarded secrets.

India has protested to China over the CPEC, which is being built through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. China has emerged as an "all-weather" ally of Pakistan, where it has launched several development projects with an investment of over USD 50 billion under the CPEC, as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious Border and Road Initiative.

The CPEC, launched in 2015, is a planned network of roads, railways and energy projects linking China's resource-rich Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region with Pakistan's strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.

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