BEIJING: President Xi Jinping is to make a long-awaited visit to Pakistan next week, his first overseas trip this year.
The visit is expected to produce wide-ranging cooperation agreements, including many concerning the economic corridor linking the two neighbors. The trip, the first by a Chinese head of state to Pakistan in nine years, has sparked media reports that Xi will launch energy and infrastructure projects related to the corridor worth $46 billion.
Liu Jianchao, assistant foreign minister, said both countries will seal agreements covering areas including energy, transportation, infrastructure, trade, finance and technology during the two-day trip, which starts on Monday.
At a news conference in Beijing, Liu said the economic corridor?a key part of China’s Silk Road initiative?is at the implementation stage.
Liu said the project will benefit Pakistan’s economic development, and China is willing to provide financing support to Pakistan.
Zhou Gang, a former Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, said the corridor project, first discussed in May 2013, will be an engine for cooperation between both countries.
Pervez Shah, president of the All Pakistan-China Friendship Association, said the corridor will play a crucial role in Pakistan’s development, especially as it involves infrastructure projects.
Pakistan’s development has long been hindered by political strife and unrest, with protests in Islamabad, the capital, prompting Xi to postpone a visit in September.
After Pakistan, Xi will visit Indonesia from Tuesday to Friday to attend the Asian-African Summit and activities marking the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference.
He will give a speech on bolstering Asian-African cooperation and have bilateral meetings with leaders of other countries, Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said. He spoke at the same news conference with assistant foreign minister Liu, presided by Lu Kang, the new deputy director-general of the ministry’s Information Department.