PM Shahbaz Sharif’s first formal contact with his Chinese counterpart.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and H.E. Mr. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, held a comprehensive telephonic conversation on 16 May 2022. Although PM Shahbaz Sharif has met and enjoys very close relations with Premier Li Ke Qiang, this was his first formal telephonic contact after he became the Prime Minister of Pakistan.  The talks between the two leaders were marked by traditional warmth and cordiality, which is the hallmark of Pakistan-China’s long-lasting exemplary relationship.

The Prime Minister offered his condolences to the Government and people of China and expressed sympathies with the families of victims of the heinous terrorist attack that took place at Karachi University on 26 April 2022, in which three Chinese scholars lost their lives. The whole nation is grieved and saddened by the loss of lives of Chinese nationals. 

The Prime Minister strongly condemned the terrorist attack and reaffirmed Pakistan’s firm resolve to hold a thorough investigation, apprehend the perpetrators of this criminal act, and bring them to justice in accordance with our laws. The culprits will not be spared and punished exemplary. The Prime Minister reiterated that Pakistan attached the highest importance to the safety, security, and protection of all Chinese nationals working in Pakistan on economic projects and institutions. The Prime Minister assured Primer Li that his Government was determined to take all necessary measures for their enhanced security and safety in Pakistan.

The two Premiers also discussed in detail bilateral matters, while agreeing that Pakistan and China would not allow anyone to harm the time-tested All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership between the two countries. It will strengthen our close cooperation and collaboration. Both countries will jointly face the challenge of terrorism.

The Prime Minister thanked China for its firm support of Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national development and reaffirmed his government’s unwavering support to China on all issues of its core interest. Both leaders enjoy the harmony of almost all domestic and international affairs and support each other at all levels. The Prime Minister affirmed his Government’s firm resolve to fast-track both the ongoing as well as the new projects under the transformational China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which had immensely contributed to the socio-economic development of Pakistan and also realize its high-quality development. CPEC is considered a lifeline and Oxygen to Pakistan’s ailing economy. The Prime Minister underscored the need for both sides to work together and enhance cooperation between the concerned agencies of the two countries to fully operationalize the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) at an early date. Industrialization is the road map for rapid development. China has the experience and Pakistan has a strong will. Pakistan possesses huge reserves of raw materials and an immense workforce. Chinese entrepreneurs have the requisite experience, so they should avail this opportunity and enhance their business in Pakistan. They will be helping Pakistan in its drive of rapid industrialization and simultaneously making use of attractive policies offered by Pakistan, which can enhance their profitability. While recalling Pakistan-China sister-city partnerships, the Prime Minister expressed his desire to learn from the experience of those Chinese officials who have remained instrumental in setting up SEZs in their provinces.

PM Shahbaz Sharif enjoys immense goodwill in China and during his tenure as Chief Minister Punjab, his performance was very well. The Prime Minister also expressed his commitment to working with renewed zeal and enthusiasm, in concert with China, especially on projects of strategic significance for both the countries, such as the ML-1 project. ML-1 is instrumental in the socio-economic development of Pakistan and vital for sustainable development.

While emphasizing people-to-people contacts, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif also conveyed sentiments of the families of the Pakistani students who were desirous of returning to China for the resumption of their studies. Due to COVID, there are several thousand Pakistani students stuck in Pakistan who could not go back to China and are forced to halt or suspend their education.

Premier Li assured the Prime Minister of China’s readiness to enhance economic cooperation, expand trade and encourage greater investments from China to Pakistan.

Both Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Premier Li Keqiang shared the view that the Pakistan-China All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership must continue to serve the vital interests of the peoples of the two countries, as well as the broader interests of peace and stability amidst the evolving regional and global milieu. To this end, the two leaders agreed to enhance the momentum of exchanges to take bilateral cooperation to even higher levels.

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