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China, Pakistan renew pledge to complete CPEC under Imran Khan

Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan has assured Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that his government will take “strictest precautions” for the security and safety of Chinese personnel working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

world Updated: Aug 22, 2018 00:08 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
China,Pakistan,CPEC
A phone conversation between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (pictured) on Monday focused on the future of CPEC, according to a report in the official Xinhua news agency.(File Photo)

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan have renewed support for the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), agreeing to work together to complete the multi-billion dollar project that India opposes.

Khan assured Li that Pakistan will take “strictest precautions” for the security and safety of Chinese personnel working on the project. India hasn’t joined President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of which CPEC is a part, as the corridor passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Beijing and Islamabad are equally firm in implementing the CPEC, which connects China’s Xinjiang with the Beijing-built Gwadar port in southwestern Pakistan through roads, highways, transport corridors and energy projects.

A phone conversation between Li and Khan on Monday — when the Chinese Premier congratulated Khan on taking over as Prime Minister — focused on the future of CPEC, according to a report in the official Xinhua news agency.

“The CPEC is a landmark project in bilateral cooperation in the new era, Li noted, adding that China appreciates the Prime Minister’s (Khan’s) remarks on firmly supporting its construction, and hopes that the two sides will work out plans for its development,” the report said.

“China also appreciates Pakistan’s great efforts in safeguarding the corridor’s construction and believes that Pakistan will continue to take measures to guarantee the safety of Chinese personnel and institutions in the country as well as cooperation projects,” Li said.

Khan assured Li of Pakistan’s help in protecting projects under the CPEC, which has come under sporadic militant attacks besides international criticism that it is putting Pakistan under a debt trap. CPEC “brings new development opportunities for Pakistan, and the country will continue to promote its construction and take the most strictest precautions to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel and projects,” Khan was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

On the broader aspects of bilateral ties, Li said the two countries have enjoyed a strong strategic cooperative partnership and bilateral ties withstood the test of time, including a changing international scene.

The two sides always treat each other on equal footing and support each other, the Chinese Premier added.

“China is willing to strengthen cooperation in various fields with Pakistan, import more competitive and high-quality products from Pakistan and facilitate a balanced development of trade in order to bring more benefits to the two peoples,” Li added.

China always stood on the Pakistani side when Pakistan was at its most difficult moments, Khan was quoted by Xinhua as saying, and adding that the new Pakistani government is willing to forge stronger relations than ever with the Chinese side.

First Published: Aug 22, 2018 00:08 IST