BEIJING: Pakistan and China signed eight cooperation agreements after wide-ranging talks here on Friday between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Premier Li Keqiang, paving the way for inflow of multi-billion dollar Chinese investment in Pakistan and further strengthening the mutually-cherished bilateral strategic relationship.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif won solid commitments in a series of meetings with the business and corporate leaders of the host country and a Pakistani official said the accords would hopefully bring the Chinese investments of up to six billion dollars over the next few years.
The China Overseas Port Holding Company has offered to build an international-level airport as well as access roads in Gwadar, the site of the deep sea port on the Arabian Sea coastline in Balochistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told The News after a meeting with the head of the Chinese firm.
Sources in the prime minister’s entourage said the Chinese premier during talks with the Pakistani prime minister agreed to waive off insurance premium worth millions of dollars on sovereign guarantees related to bilateral contracts.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in an interview with the state-run television that an understanding has been reached with the Chinese for a planned Lahore-Karachi motorway project, terming the development a major achievement.
A feasibility study on the cross-country motorway project will be completed soon and followed up with concrete steps to start the work on its construction, the prime minister told the state-run television.
One of the accords inked in the presence of the two prime ministers envisages the establishment of an Economic Corridor between Gwadar and the historic Silk Road city in western region Xinjiang region of China, connected to Gilgit-Baltistan through the 15,397 feet altitude Khunjerab Pass.
The ambitious Pakistan-China Economic Corridor plan involves an estimated cost of 18 billion dollars, requiring construction of a string of tunnels in the mountainous terrain.Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal and Chairman National Development and Reforms Commission of China Xu Shao signed the corridor accord, which the Chinese premier said was a project of strategic value. The two sides also concluded an agreement on the Economic and Technical Cooperation, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi signing it with a senior Chinese official.
Besides cooperation in delegation by Pakistan’s prime minister.As both leaders reached the welcome dais, a contingent of People’s Liberation Army played national anthems of both the countries.
Following the welcome ceremony, both the dignitaries held bilateral talks.Briefing the media, Premier Li said he clearly remembered his visit to Pakistan in May the Prime Minister-in-waiting Nawaz Sharif participated in his meetings with the then leaders of Pakistan.
Premier Li greatly appreciated Nawaz Sharif’s warmth and deep affection for the people of China.
Nawaz Sharif thanked Premier Li for his remarks and said what he has been observing here during his visit to China, substantiates the fact that “our friendship is higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the oceans and sweeter than honey.”
Nawaz Sharif thanked the Chinese Premier for the hospitality extended to him and his entourage.
He recalled his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping held on Thursday and said, “He was very kind to invite us. We exchanged similar views last night as well.”
Nawaz Sharif also thanked Premier Li for inviting him to visit China and added that he felt proud to visit China as my maiden foreign visit after assuming office.
Meanwhile, talking to state-run television, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered completion of Lahore-Karachi Motorway within two and half years after finalising the feasibility study of the project in three months.
After an MoU signing ceremony between Pakistan and China for cooperation to construct Lahore-Karachi Motorway, the prime minister said the government was committed to provide comfortable and affordable transport facilities to its citizens within minimum possible time.
Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal and Chairman China State Construction Engineering Corporation Yi Jun signed the MoU from both sides, respectively.
While stressing for expeditious project completion, Nawaz, however, was categorical to state that the government will not compromise on quality of the work.
He said the signing of MoU was a remarkable step and it was laudable that the government has been making landmark achievements in its initial days.
He said work on the mega project would be launched shortly after completion of the project’s feasibility study which he hoped would benefit the people of all four provinces as well as Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is a historic day. Once this project completes, the travel time would reduce remarkably that would also ultimately promote business activities in the region,” Nawaz Sharif said.
He also lauded the MoU signing for infrastructure development in Gwadar and said the planned Lahore-Karachi Motorway would also touch another highway linking Kashgar to Karachi via Gwadar.
Earlier, in a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz, Chairman CSCEC Yi Jun said his company was interested in executing various development projects in Pakistan including the construction of highways and launching of bullet trains.
He also offered his company’s services for the construction of already planned bullet train project between Peshawar and Karachi.The prime minister lauded the offer and invited CSCEC chairman to visit Pakistan in August this year for negotiations in this regard.
Nawaz Sharif said resolution of energy crisis, infrastructure development and comfortable and affordable transport facilities were among his government’s foremost priorities. Meanwhile, in a meeting with China Overseas Port Holding Company Limited President Sun Ziyun, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said there should be no delay in the infrastructural development of Gwadar and assured his government’s all-out cooperation to the companies engaged in Gwadar’s development.
The prime minister said his government desired to develop Gwadar Port on Hong Kong model and it may be given special status through necessary legislation to ensure speedy execution of the project.
He said the government wanted to develop an airport of international standard in Gwadar and called for early completion of the repair and rehabilitation works on Karakoram Highway.
Nawaz Sharif said the KKH was of utmost importance that should be rehabilitated without any delay so that the bilateral trade between Pakistan and China may flourish.He also urged the Chinese company’s head to accomplish the rehabilitation work on Attabad Lake and surrounding areas.
In response, Sun Ziyun said work on Attabad Lake would be completed by 2016 while the rehabilitation of KKH would complete a year earlier.President of China Overseas Port Holding Company Limited told Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that for Gwadar’s development, assistance would be sought from China Development Bank.
He said the roads infrastructure in Gwadar would be connected with the communication network of rest of the country to facilitate transportation of goods.Deputy Director General/ Vice Minister, State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND), Wang Yi Ren also met the prime minister.
On this occasion, Nawaz Sharif said that he feels happy to see the dream of JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft - a joint production of Pakistan and China - coming true, as it was he who had signed the agreement to this effect with the Chinese Premier in 1997.
China Three Gorges Corporation Chairman Cao GuangJing also called on the premier and told Nawaz Sharif that his company was executing nine power projects in Pakistan.
Out of these projects, he said one each was underway in Kohala, Karot and Jhampir. He said work on Jhampir project was heading on swift pace that would produce 50 megawatts on completion.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assured the company’s head to address any problems confronting the company in execution of projects.
Cao GuangJing offered company’s technical assistance to Pakistan for Diamer-Bhasha Dam project besides expressing willingness to carry out more hydel power projects in the country.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited Cao GuangJing to visit Pakistan along with project proposals for their there timely execution.
Vice Chairman China Coal Technology and Engineering Group Corporation (CCTEGC) Wang Jinhua also called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
During the meeting, the prime minister said that as far as energy was concerned, Pakistan was facing this certain problem. Power shortages have badly affected our economy, he added.
He said during his meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, they assured their support to address the energy problem in Pakistan.
The prime minister said since the CCTEGC had vast experience in coal technology, Pakistan would like to benefit from its expertise.
“We want to fully utilise Pakistan’s coal reserves for the provision of economical power to masses”, he said and appreciated the support and assistance of CCTEGC in this regard.
Wang Jinhua thanked Prime Minister Sharif for providing him an opportunity of meeting and assured all out support of CCTEGC to Pakistan, which he said, had good prospects of power generation through coal.
The prime minister said the PML-N government desired to have power producing units set up near the coal site and wanted to complete this work on a fast pace. “We want to fully benefit from the country’s precious coal reserves”.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Zhang Dejiang met Nawaz Sharif at Great Hall of the People here.
In the meeting, Zhang Dejiang recalled his visit to Pakistan in year 2010 as Vice Premier when he had met Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif.
Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, Adviser to the PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatmi, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, Ambassador Masood Khalid and senior government officials were also present during the meetings.