Beijing November 01, 2022: Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, where he is expected to discuss economic ties and reviving a stalled infrastructure and investment project.
He will meet Chinese investors and leaders including President Xi Jinping on the two-day trip, with a focus on the “revitalisation” of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a project worth an estimated US$62 billion under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Sharif is the second foreign leader to visit China since last month’s 20th Communist Party congress that saw Xi secure a norm-breaking third term and unveil a new leadership line-up. It is Sharif’s first visit to China since he became prime minister in April.
Pakistan’s economy has taken a beating after torrential rains and floods decimated roads and homes across the country, and the government has said US$16.3 billion is needed for reconstruction.
During the visit Sharif would review bilateral ties, sign agreements and share views on regional and global developments with Chinese leaders, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said.
He will also meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Li Zhanshu, head of the legislature, according to Beijing. Both are expected to step down in March since they were not included in the Central Committee of 205 top cadres chosen at the party congress.
Before his flight, Sharif wrote on Twitter that Pakistan and China would stand as friends and partners as the world grappled with challenges. “There is a lot to learn from Chinese economic miracle,” he said.
In a group interview with Chinese state media outlets ahead of the trip, Sharif praised CPEC for reducing commute times and improving Pakistan’s infrastructure and energy sector.
“This is what I look forward to: expanding the role of the Belt and Road Initiative and CPEC under the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.
Several CPEC projects – including railways and power plants to improve the prospects of poorer regions – have been delayed because of difficulties raising funds and poor project management. Of the 95 projects listed by Islamabad’s CPEC Authority on its website, only 27 have been completed.
There have also been attacks on Chinese nationals working on the projects, carried out by separatists in Balochistan province who say the projects are stealing their natural resources.
Sharif is among several foreign leaders visiting China since the party congress. Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong was the first to travel to Beijing on Monday. While the two countries have clashed over their territorial claims in the South China Sea, Xi told Trong that China would build a stable supply chain with its “comrade and brother” Vietnam.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is expected to arrive in China on Friday with a business delegation.