China says it is willing to help Pakistan over fiscal crisis


China pledged to provide economic assistance to Pakistan following talks on Saturday between newly elected Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.

China on Saturday assured Pakistan of its full support to "tide over" the financial crisis, clearly signalling Beijing's readiness to give fresh loans to its all-weather ally which is in deep economic distress.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged Chinese businessmen to explore investment opportunities in diverse socio-economic sectors of Pakistan.

Critics say the Chinese loans tied to BRI infrastructure projects could make Pakistan's financial situation worse, while others argue they fill a critical funding gap.

"China can't replace the Pakistani government in taking care of its people", he said.

Meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Imran Khan said he'd come to China to learn. Now it is on the ground.

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China Thursday sought to defend the proposed bus service with Pakistan through PaK, saying its cooperation with Islamabad has nothing to do with the territorial dispute and will not change its principled stance on the Kashmir issue.

Pakistan sees China as a great opportunity to progress, attract investment, he said. "Unfortunately we have inherited a very hard economic situation", Khan said.

Responding to the development, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Ravesh Kumar said it has been India's consistent position that the so-called China-Pakistan "Boundary Agreement" of 1963 is illegal and Government of India does not recognise it. The Western model is very different from Pakistan and China's experiences, he said.

On the occasion, an official welcome ceremony was held in honor of the prime minister.

After the talks, the two leaders witnessed the signing of more than 10 documents on cooperation in areas including science research, justice, poverty reduction, health and customs.

For his part, Khan said with the continuous deepening of the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, the relations between the two countries at all levels are becoming stronger. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad halted a few Chinese projects after coming to power this year, while Myanmar's Planning and Finance Minister Soe Win told Nikkei in July that his government would demand that plans for a new port be "slimmed down".

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Pakistan's foreign reserves have plunged 42 percent since the start of the year and now stand at about $8 billion, or less than two months of import cover.

International Monetary Fund has provided 12 rescue packages since the late 1980s, Reuters noted.

"There's been no change in the number of CPEC projects".

He also said there will be no changes in the Dollars 60 billion CPEC projects which came under criticism including by some of the Khan's Cabinet ministers over the increasing debt.

However the scope of the project would increase and will tilt in favor of people's livelihoods, Kong said, also without elaborating.

"China appreciates Pakistan's quest for peace through dialogue, cooperation and negotiation, on the basis of mutual respect and equality, and supports Pakistan's efforts for improvement of Pakistan-India relations and for settlement of outstanding disputes between the two countries", the joint statement said.

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