Pakistan PM Imran Khan arrives in China, seeks bailout money
Imran Khan arrived in Beijing today, in what is termed as the most significant visit to China by a Pakistani Prime Minister in recent years. Khan, who has earlier criticized the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, is expected to seek more loans from his country's all-weather ally to avoid approaching International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package. Read more.
China's Transport Minister, envoys welcome Khan upon arrival to Beijing
Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives at Beijing.— PTV News (@PTVNewsOfficial) November 1, 2018
Chinese Minister for Transport Mr. Li Xiaopeng, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Mr. Yao Jing and Ambassador of Pakistan to China Mr. Masood Khalid received the Prime Minister upon arrival in Beijing. pic.twitter.com/8ffHQZKNji
Itinerary: Several agreements to be signed, Khan to attend expo
Khan is scheduled to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang on shoring up the ties between the two countries, after which both are expected to sign several agreements. The Asian countries will also try to iron out differences over the multi-billion CPEC. During his visit, Khan will also attend China's International Import Expo on November 5 in Shanghai.
From Saudi, Pak secured $3 billion for bailout package
Besides China, Khan had approached Saudi Arabia for the bailout package and successfully secured $3 billion funding from the desert country along with differed payment for oil imports worth about $3 billion for a year. Notably, Pakistan also plans to ask the IMF but remains concerned about the stringent conditions the international lender may impose specially to scrutinise the CPEC projects.
China concerned about critical remarks made by Khan's Cabinet Ministers
For its part, China is also concerned about critical remarks made by Khan's Cabinet Ministers, where they had asked to cut down some of the projects over debt concern. Abdul Razzak Dawood, Advisor on Commerce and Trade, who is accompanying Khan to China, said some of the agreements were unfair to Pakistani companies and should be put on hold for a year.
CPEC has become a major irritant in India-China relations
Meanwhile, Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed said Pakistan wants to cut the size of the $8 billion Karachi-Peshawar rail line, the biggest project of CPEC, by $2 billion. The statements evoked serious concerns in China as the CPEC is the flagship project of Xi's pet project multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Further, the CPEC has also become a major irritant in India-China relations.
Delhi opposes CPEC as it traverses through PoK
Recently, India voiced its opposition to CPEC as it traverses through PoK. Despite everything, Khan assured his support to the project when Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Islamabad last month. China has also agreed to address Khan's concerns that the CPEC projects were mainly benefiting the dominant Punjab region and that the projects will focus on Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
China concerned over Pak's plans to approach IMF
From Beijing's point of view, Pakistan's criticism of CPEC was a shocker, especially after China's takeover of Sri Lanka's Hambantota port on a 99-year lease as debt swap. China is also concerned over Pakistan's plans to approach IMF since the CPEC loans may get scrutinized.
Beijing uncomfortable over Pakistan roping in Saudi Arabia
Among other concerns, Pakistan roping in Saudi Arabia to invest in Balochistan bordering Iran is making Beijing uncomfortable. The province is key to CPEC as it terminates at the strategic Gwadar port. China doesn't want the CPEC projects to get caught in the Saudi-Iran rivalry. For its part, China has been giving a top billing for Khan's visit and vehemently denying the debt concerns.