Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Chinese, Pakistan leaders prepare to meet amid debt concerns

Rising Kashmir India logdes protest against Pakistan, China over bus services which passes through Pak-Occupied Kashmir
Laurie Berry | 03 November, 2018, 01:06

President Xi told PM Khan that he valued both countries' relations, and reaffirmed their "all-weather" friendship.

The Pakistani side is willing to reinforce communication and coordination in multilateral affairs with China, Khan added.

During his meeting with Xi on Friday, the prime minister voiced confidence in the belt and road project, and what he called the Chinese president's vision of connectivity.

Further complicating matters, the United States, which strongly influences the International Monetary Fund, has said it will not finance the repayment of Pakistan's Chinese loans.

The Prime Minister said that since President Xi Jinping came to power, over 400 big names and powerful people have been convicted of corruption and that is the number one area which he hoped to learn during the China tour.

State Councillor Wang Yi said: "The Chinese side will continue to provide support and help to the best of its ability for Pakistan's economic and social development and national construction".

He said Pakistan faced a deficit of $27 billion which included $9 billion debt repayment this year. "So we can learn more from China than any other country", he maintained.

"After taking monetary and fiscal measures, in my opinion, our financing gap for this year will be around Dollars 12 billion", he said.

Pakistan's foreign reserves have plunged 42 percent since the start of the year and now stand at about $7.8 billion, or less than two months of import cover.

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Khan's visit evoked considerable interest here as it comes in the wake of his past criticism of the United States dollars 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects and remarks by his ministers to cut down some of the projects over debt concern.

On Sunday, he will head to Shanghai for the China International Import Expo, where he will lead a delegation of 76 government officials and business leaders, and deliver a keynote speech.

His visit here was regarded as significant as it is taking place amid critical remarks made by some ministers in Khan's Cabinet on the CPEC which had caused consternation among Chinese leaders considering the "all-weather" relations.

"China wants to avoid such transparency because exposing the terms of the CPEC project agreements could validate the USA criticism of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a debt trap for emerging economies", the Post report said.

India on Wednesday, October, was once again at loggerheads with China and Pakistan over a service, which is scheduled to be launched this week between Lahore and Kashghar, a city that runs through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK).

Finance Minister Umar said this week that his government was seeking funds from various countries and institutions to avoid becoming dependent on a single source.

He said with Pakistan having oldest relationship with China, it was the only friendly country in the world on whom people in Pakistan felt they could always depend in the hour of need.

The statements evoked serious concerns in China as the CPEC is the flagship project of President Xi's pet multi-billion BRI.

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