ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is preparing for an all important China visit after a seemingly successful visit to the United States where he participated in the United Nations General Assembly session and held important bilateral meetings including those with the US leaders.
His meeting with US President Joe Biden was particularly described as positive. PM Sharif also appreciated the US support amid the ongoing flood destruction in the country.
Just before flying to the US, PM Sharif had attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. On the sidelines of the SCO meeting, the PM held talkPresident Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin among others.
In those meetings, the sides agreed to enhance cooperation and PM Sharif also pledged to visit China and Russia on the invitation from the respective leaders. These will be very important visits keeping in mind the US tension with both the powers.
In Beijing, PM Sharif is expected to brief President Xi Jinping about the progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects and the flood situation apart from the regional and international situation.
Pakistan-China relations started in 1950 when Pakistan was among the primary nations to recognize the People’s Republic of China. Since that point, both nations have set significant significance on the steady extraordinary relationship.
The two nations have routinely traded high-level visits coming about in an assortment of understandings. The PRC has always given financial and specialized help to Pakistan, and each nation considers the other a near key partner.
Sharif has been close to the Chinese leadership. His older brother Nawaz Sharif – a three-time Prime Minister – too enjoyed good ties with Beijing and claims credit for CPEC.
Shehbaz Sharif worked together with China even as the chief minister of Punjab and so many Chinese leaders describe him as ‘Punjab speed’ – referring to his commitment to complete development projects at good pace.
Close aides of PM Sharif say the premier is upbeat about the November visit to China and expects to cement the ties further.
Pakistan and China have several consultations mechanisms including strategic dialogue at foreign ministers’ level, political consultations at foreign secretary/vice-minister level; consultations on South Asia, arms control, counter-terrorism; human rights, peacekeeping, maritime dialogue, border management consultations, and consular affairs.
Pakistan-China defence collaboration forms the backbone of the relationship. The cooperation spans high-level military exchanges, structured defence and security talks, joint exercises, training of personnel in each other’s institutions, joint defence production and defence trade.
The militaries of the two countries have institutionalised three tiers of bilateral consultations to enable close cooperation at all levels. There is an extensive range of cooperation, including joint ventures, for the production of military equipment, aircraft, submarines and tanks. China is also the recipient of the largest number of military training officials from Pakistan.
China is currently Pakistan’s largest single trading partner; while Pakistan is China’s second largest trading partner in South Asia.
Major imports from China include machinery and mechanical appliances, metals, chemical products, mineral ores, plastic scrap and transport equipment. Main exports include cotton yarn, cotton fabric, rice, leather and fish products.
In recent years, the bilateral trade volume between China and Pakistan has increased rapidly with stable commodity structure. However, despite robust investment from China, bilateral trade remains anemic.
China’s imports from Pakistan reflect a downward trend whereas China’s exports to Pakistan are on an upward trajectory. Bilateral trade, which stood at $ 1.3 billion in 2002, reached $ 19.08 billion in 2018. Imports from China stood at $ 12.7 billion and exports from Pakistan to China at $ 1.85 billion in 2019.s with Chinese