China, Pakistan’s biggest financial backer, will continue to fill Islamabad’s ‘begging bowl’

Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country will continue to support Pakistan in stabilizing its financial situation. The comment comes after Shehbaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, traveled to Beijing to meet with Chinese officials to discuss the $65 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Sharif claimed in September that even friendly countries see Pakistan as a country that is perpetually begging for financial help. He claimed that whenever Pakistani ministers contact or visit a friendly country, the locals think that we are there to ask for help. Sharif said Pakistan has been wandering around with a “begging bowl” for 75 years.

Read also : Pakistan has been in a ‘begging bowl’ for 75 years, says Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif

Imran Khan, the ousted former prime minister, vigorously disputes the Sharif government’s claim that the CPEC project was slowed down during its administration.

The majority of Pakistan’s $27 billion in bilateral debt, or about $23 billion, is made up of Chinese loans. Since China and Pakistan have always been strong allies, Sharif is also likely to touch on security-related topics during his visit. Finance and energy ministers are among those in Sharif’s entourage.

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A major investment has been made in energy and economic projects in Pakistan under President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to improve China’s road, rail and sea links with the rest of the world. world.

An aide traveling with the prime minister told Reuters that on his first two-day trip to Beijing since taking office in April, Sharif will also ask China for debt relief, particularly the renewal of bilateral debt. .

One of the first world leaders to speak with President Xi after he is elected for a third term will be Sharif. Even before the catastrophic floods that the nation of Pakistan experienced over the summer, which resulted in losses of at least $30 billion, the government was already experiencing a balance of payments problem.

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“My discussions with Chinese leaders will focus on revitalizing CPEC, among other things,” Sharif said in a statement, adding that he will meet with President Xi and other Chinese leaders while there.

Although Pakistan has previously hinted that it will seek bilateral debt relief to ease its balance of payments problems, it has yet to make a public statement on whether it will formally ask Beijing for a such assistance. Pakistan’s central bank reserves now stand at $7.4 billion, barely enough to cover imports for a month and a half.

(With contributions from the agency)

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