Pakistani PM to visit China, attend Summer Davos

By Li Shen, August 30, 2012
Pakistan Ambassador to China Masood Khan receives an interview with at the embassy on August 28, 2012. [ Lin]

Pakistan Ambassador to China Masood Khan receives an exclusive interview with at the embassy on August 28, 2012. [ Lin]

Pakistan's newly elected prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will visit China next month and attend the World Economic Forum 2012 Summer Davos inTianjin Municipality. Pakistan Ambassador to China Masood Khan revealed the news to a reporter during an exclusive interview Tuesday afternoon at the embassy.

Prime Minister Ashraf will meet prominent Chinese leaders and attend the WEF event which will take place in Tianjin from September 11 to 13. His visit is important because of the official contacts with the Chinese leadership, the ambassador stated.

Ashraf was elected as Pakistan's Prime Minister on June 22. Shortly after his election, Ashraf delivered a speech at the parliament house in Islamabad, vowing to further enhance the nation's ties with China.

"Pakistan's friendship with China is bigger than the mountains and China has helped us out in hours of need." He said.

Enhancing economic ties is expected to be one of the purposes of his visit. China has become Pakistan's largest trading partner and biggest exporter. Over the past four years, the total volume of bilateral trade has nearly doubled and reached a sum of US$10.6 billion in 2011. Although Pakistan has been running a bilateral trade deficit , its exports to China have been increasing over the past two years. "It is encouraging. In 2010, there was an increase of 37 percent and last year we saw a 22 percent ," said Ambassador Masood Khan, "Both countries have set a goal of US$15 billion on bilateral trade by 2015."

But the current total volume is not enough according to Khan. He hoped that both sides can work together to fully utilize their free trade agreements on goods, investment and services which they signed in 2006. "We have requested the Chinese government and private sector to help us strengthen our capacity in processing and manufacturing, textiles, leather, garments, and also in the light engineering sector,"he said.

China has helped Pakistan build its port of Gwadar, in Balochistan, as well as the Karakoram Highway, connecting northern Pakistan to western China. According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, China had invested an accumulated $1.37 billion in Pakistan by 2010.

At present, both countries are working on the China-Pakistan railway. According to Khan, the pre-feasibility work has been done. "This new link will enhance the economic ties between China and Pakistan as well as create a new link between East and South Asia."

Security is another focus point. China and Pakistan have been working closely on intelligence sharing and the fight against "the three evils" (terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism) ."We should move together to fight these evils and crack down on transnational crimes." Khan said.

The high-level political exchanges have always continued their intensity. In the past four years, the president of Pakistan had visited China nine times and former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani visited China five times. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Pakistan in December 2010, Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang visited Pakistan in June 2010 and State Councilor Dai Bingguo visited the country in December 2011.

Staff reporter Xu Lin has contributed to this story.

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