Prime Minister Imran Khan will be travelling to Beijing next month to attend the opening ceremony of Winter Olympics, bolster the all-weather bilateral ties and seek more investments in various projects under the ambitious CPEC, the Foreign Office said here on Thursday.
The Beijing Winter Olympics will be held from February 4 to 20, followed by the Paralympics Winter Games from March 4-13, amid a diplomatic boycott by several Western countries, including the US and the UK over concerns of China’s alleged human rights abuses.
“The premier will be embarking on a three-day visit to Beijing from February 3 on the invitation of the Chinese leadership,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said during his weekly news briefing. Khan will also have an interaction with the Chinese leadership to further strengthen Pakistan-China all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and to exchange views on regional and international issues, Iftikhar said.
Khan’s visit is considered significant because several western and European countries have announced a diplomatic boycott of the event. Tensions have risen between China and several Western countries over a number of issues.
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The US has accused China of genocide in its repression of the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority in the western region of Xinjiang – an allegation China has rejected. While projects pertaining to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be key to the talks between the two sides, Iftikhar opined that Khan’s visit would help promote international cooperation required to overcome the challenges faced due to the ongoing pandemic and open up avenues of collaboration with other developing countries.
The USD 60 billion CPEC connecting China’s resource-rich Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar port in Balochistan is regarded as the flagship project of the multi-billion Belt and Road initiative, the pet scheme of Chinese President Xi Jinping aimed at furthering China’s influence globally with Chinese funded infrastructure projects.
Iftikhar said that Pakistan welcomes the Global Development Initiative put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping as a timely and good intention to facilitate implementation of the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development. “Pakistan and China are global partners, and we look forward to further strengthening this partnership under China’s Global Development Initiative,” he added.