Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Thursday told Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that Beijing did not only view Pakistan as a strategic friend but that Pakistan’s stability and economic welfare were of “utmost importance” to the region and to China.
The two premiers held a comprehensive telephone conversation on Thursday, during which a number of issues relating to the two country’s and the region were discussed, a statement from the PM’s Office said. The conversation ended on a positive note with the Chinese premier reiterating the importance of Pakistan in the region.
The two leaders’ discussion was characterised by “warmth and cordiality”, in keeping with the traditions of the Pakistan-China All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership.
The two premiers exchanged New Year greetings and noted that bilateral relations between the two states had grown to new heights in the outgoing year, the press release mentioned and also stated that the two agreed to maintain the steady momentum of bilateral cooperation in 2023.
During the telephone conversation, they discussed regional issues of mutual interest, PM Shehbaz’s visit to China in November 2022, and the wide-ranging conversations held between him, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li.
“The PM underscored Pakistan’s commitment to fostering closer relations with China, and reiterated Pakistan’s unstinting support on China’s core interests,” the press release read.
During the course of the conversation, the prime minister broached the topic of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and emphasised Pakistan’s unswerving focus on the timely progress of CPEC projects.
The PM assured his Chinese counterpart that Pakistan would provide a completely secure and conducive business environment for Chinese investors.
In his two-day state visit to China in November 2022, PM Shehbaz had been reassured by the Chinese president that China would continue to support Pakistan in stabilising its financial situation.
It was also decided that China and Pakistan would move forward more effectively with the construction of the economic corridor, as well as accelerate the construction of infrastructure for the Gwadar Sea Port.
While discussing the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan being held in Geneva on 9 January, PM Shehbaz also briefed Premier Li on the latest progress in post-flood reconstruction and rehabilitation in Pakistan in the aftermath of the devastating monsoon floods that had shaken the country.
“The prime minister conveyed Pakistan’s profound gratitude for China’s prompt and generous support for the flood-affected people,” the press release said.
Whereas, Premier Li assured the prime minister of China’s continued support for Pakistan’s reconstruction efforts and the success of the Conference.
Both leaders agreed to maintain close communication to fast-track the bilateral cooperation agenda for the mutual benefit of the people of Pakistan and China in 2023 and beyond.