Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday reportedly told his federal cabinet that his recent visit to China was “more successful than expected,” noting that Beijing has “assured every kind of assistance to Pakistan.”
“The prime minister, while briefing the cabinet, said that for the first time in the history of Pak-China bilateral relationship, the latter assured the former its full support in the agriculture sector,” Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper revealed.
Although Pakistani media reported that Beijing had agreed to provide $6 billion in aid to cash-strapped Islamabad, Bejing has refused to quantify the amount of financial aid it plans to give its top ally Pakistan, India’s NDTV reported.
On Saturday [November 3], China said it had agreed to “firmly move forward” with infrastructure projects in Pakistan following meetings between Mr Khan and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. During his official visit to China, the world’s second largest economy, Mr Khan also met President Xi Jinping. China has invested tens of billions of dollars in Pakistan in recent years as part of its Belt and Road Initiative [BRI] – which aims to link the economies of Asia, Africa and Europe via huge infrastructural projects.
On November 2, Reuters added that China vowed “to provide [Pakistan] support and help to the best of its ability.”
“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,” the news outlet continued.
However, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar claimed on Tuesday that “Pakistan’s immediate balance of payment crisis is over,” adding the Saudi loan combined with unspecified aid pledged by Beijing had shored up foreign currency reserves.
PM Khan has already secured a $6 billion loan from Saudi Arabia but is also seeking an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout of about $12 billion.
The recently elected prime minister inherited grave economic challenges from his predecessor. Pakistan is struggling to prevent a financial crisis and keep its troubled economy afloat.
“Our country is very impressed [with] the way China has progressed. China’s phenomenal achievements are worth emulating. No other country has tackled poverty and corruption the way China has tackled it,” PM Khan declared on November 2, during his first official visit to China on Friday, according to Dawn.
“Pakistan wants to learn from China’s experience in poverty alleviation and curbing corruption,” he added.
In response, Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping reportedly said Beijing values its “all-weather” relationship with Islamabad.
“I attach great importance to China-Pakistan relations and am willing to work together with the prime minister to strengthen the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership and build a new era of China-Pakistan destiny,” Xi proclaimed.
Beijing has touted its ambitious $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the flagship infrastructure program of BRI, also known as the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project.