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When Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain arrives in Beijing on Tuesday, the Chinese government would surely accord him a welcome that befits the head of a state visiting from a country which is an “all weather friend”.
It will be Hussain’s first official visit abroad since taking over office late last year. And Beijing indicated that it was because of their special bilateral relation that the Pakistan President will be the first head of state to visit China after, well, the Spring Festival or in the beginning of the New Lunar Year.
The timing might well be auspicious for China, enmeshed as it is in the politics of symbolism and beliefs, but diplomatic niceties aside, Mamnoon’s three-day visit is expected to fast forward cooperation - or ensure China’s deeper participation - in nuclear energy and infrastructure collaboration between the two countries.
New Delhi would be closely following Mamnoon’s interaction with the top leadership of the country and the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
Ahead of his visit, Hussain, who was born in Agra before the Partition, said he hoped that China will help Pakistan in overcoming severe power shortages in the country.
In January, it was revealed that Pakistan was in talks with China to acquire three nuclear power plants for about $13 million. The new plants will be addition to the two that China has already agreed to build in Karachi.
It also gives China the opportunity to sell its nuclear technology to Pakistan and use the opportunity to reach a wider market.
Nuclear proliferation aside, new nuclear plants in Pakistan will give India more to worry about.
Hussain, according to Pakistani media, also urged further implementation of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, a project that Premier Li Keqiang proposed to boost bilateral economic cooperation during his visit to Islamabad in May.
“The project is going to be a monument of the century. It will benefit not only Pakistan and China, but also the whole region with billions of people,” Hussain said.
Calling the corridor a strategic project for the next 10 to 20 years, Hu Shisheng, a South Asian studies researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told state-run English newspaper, China Daily, the two countries will have to establish a series of support facilities to stimulate the full functioning of the corridor.
"Through this channel, more Chinese investment will be brought in to Pakistan's energy sector, and to a certain degree it will alleviate the country's power shortage," adding: “China is also looking for a recovery in Pakistan's economy, to fully develop its strategic value.”