Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday left for his four-day official tour of China to “take the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership [between the two countries] to new heights”, said an official statement.
It marks the premier’s second official visit to the country since coming into power. His first visit had come in November last year, following which China’s President Xi Jinping had invited him again to attend the second Belt and Road Forum, which kicks off in Beijing on Friday.
“China is our closest friend and ‘iron brother’,” Prime Minister Imran is quoted as saying by Radio Pakistan. “I look forward to meeting my good friends President Xi and Premier Li for an in-depth exchange of views on all issues of mutual interest.”
The prime minister said that the Pak-China ties do not merely arise out of a “convergence of interests” but are rooted in past shared experiences and a “high-level of mutual trust and understanding”.
“This friendship is ingrained in the hearts and minds of our people. It would remain unaffected by any regional and international developments,” he added.
The premier also thanked China “for its strong and unequivocal support to Pakistan’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity”, vowing that Pakistan too “will continue to stand by China on all issues of its core interest”.
Furthermore, the prime minister said he “strongly endorses China’s vision of a peaceful world based on win-win cooperation and community of shared destiny and a new model of development envisioned in President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative”.
Speaking about the second phase of the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC), PM Imran noted that the two countries “are jointly focusing on socio-economic development, job creation, as well as livelihood, agriculture and industrial projects, including Special Economic Zones”.
“I am strongly committed to further strengthening [the] Pakistan-China relationship. I am confident that my visit will be instrumental in further expanding the scope and depth of our bilateral ties,” he added.
The prime minister is due to deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the second Belt and Road Forum on Friday, according to various media reports.
He will also attend a ‘Leaders’ Roundtable’ with representatives from around 38 countries, Radio Pakistan reported.
PM Imran will also hold discussions with several heads of state and government, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, as well as corporate and business leaders on the sidelines of the Forum, the national broadcaster added.
The two countries are set to sign several memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and agreements “to enhance bilateral cooperation in diverse areas”, the publication said.
The premier is also set to address a Pakistan Business and Investment Forum on Sunday, which is expected to be attended by several prominent Pakistani and Chinese businessmen.
Additionally, he will take part in the Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition alongside other world leaders.