Pakistan PM begins China visit for investment push, amid diplomatic boycott of Winter Olympics by West and India
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan reached Beijing on a four-day visit to China where he will also take part in the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games which is facing a diplomatic boycott from the West and India for different reasons
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan reached Beijing on a four-day visit to China where he will also take part in the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games which is facing a diplomatic boycott from the West and India for different reasons. The opening ceremony will take place on Friday.
Besides the Winter Olympics, for Khan, who is traveling with his several high-ranking officials, the visit is of great importance as Islalamabad hopes for a mega push for the USD 70 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He will be the first foreign leader to meet Chinese President Xi Xinping since the pandemic began almost two years back in March 2020.
“We believe that there will be further swiftness in the pace of Chinese investments in Pakistan," Pakistan’s Planning Minister Asad Umar said on Twitter, adding the trip is coming at a highly important time. During the visit, Prime Minister Khan will ask China to relocate its industries in Pakistan’s newly built special economic zones, Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen said.
The first phase of China’s flagship CPEC program is already completed and has entered its second phase. However, both, the speed of the project implementation and investment are now slowing down. China is also getting increasingly concerned about its growing investments in Pakistan where the security environment is deteriorating.
In the second phase of the CPEC, both countries plan to push for the agriculture sector and business-to-business cooperation in Pakistan. “The prime minister will also [ask] them to help us in our agriculture transformation plan because agriculture holds a very important place for us,” Tareen was quoted as saying by Dawn.
Besides Khan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other state heads are also attending the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics Friday.
Significantly, the United States and its allies are boycotting the opening ceremony, citing Beijing’s continued human rights violations in Xinjiang, a northwestern autonomous region inhabited by ethnic Uighurs Muslims.
This week, India also said its diplomats in Beijing will not take part in the ceremony after China on Wednesday fielded Qi Fabao, the regimental commander of People’s Liberation Army (PLA), who was "seriously injured" in the skirmishes with Indian troops in strategically important Galwan Valley in Ladakh, as a torchbearer for the Olympic torch relay and is being hailed as a "hero".
Experts said Beijing’s move to publicise the participation of Qi showed its attempt to use the Games for aggressive nationalism. Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs(MEA), termed the move “regrettable that the Chinese side has chosen to politicise an event like the Olympics...”
Significantly, New Delhi had backed China in hosting these prestigious international events - which it uses to showcase its achievements to the world - as it was facing backlash from western countries. On November 6, at the foreign ministers' meeting of RIC (Russia, India, and China), New Delhi had expressed its "support" to China to host the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.