PM Shehbaz to embark upon landmark China visit on November 1

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will embark upon a two-day state visit to China on November 1 at the invitation of China’s Premier Li Keqiang.

The announcement was made by both the friendly countries on Wednesday. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will also accompany him, it added.

This will be Sharif’s maiden state visit to China since assuming office in April and follows his meeting with President Xi Jinping on September 16 on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Uzbekistan.

The prime minister will be among the first leaders to visit Beijing following the historic 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the founding and sole ruling party of China.

Foreign Office said: “The prime minister’s visit represents the continuity of frequent leadership level exchanges between Pakistan and China.”

During his stay, Sharif will call on Jinping and hold delegation-level talks with Keqiang.

The two nations will review the “all-weather strategic cooperation and partnership” and exchange views on regional and global developments.

“The visit is also expected to advance the wide-ranging bilateral cooperation agenda with the conclusion of a number of MoUs/agreements in diverse areas, and consolidate the momentum of CPEC cooperation in the wake of the 11th meeting of the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) on October 27,” the Foreign Office said.

China eagerly awaits PM Shehbaz 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin announced on Wednesday that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will visit China on November 1 upon invitation by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Shehbaz is among the first batch of foreign leaders to visit China after the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) concluded, demonstrating the special friendship and strategic mutual trust between China and Pakistan, Wang said at a routine news conference.

This will also be Shehbaz’s first visit to China since taking office in April, a continuation of the positive momentum of close high-level contacts between the two countries, Wang said.

During his visit, Shehbaz is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He will also hold talks with Premier Li Keqiang, and meet with Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Li Zhanshu. The leaders will have in-depth exchanges of views on bilateral relations and international and regional issues of common concern, and jointly plan and put forward the blueprint for the development of China-Pakistan relations, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Wang noted that China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners and ironclad brothers. The two countries have always understood each other, trusted each other and supported each other over the past 70 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties.

“Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan, the bilateral relationship has been a classic example of friendly interaction between countries with different systems, social types and nationalities, which is also recognized by the international community,” Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told media.

“China looks forward to working with Pakistan in order to take this visit as an opportunity to further promote all-weather and high-level strategic cooperation, build a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era, and make greater contributions to the maintenance of regional peace and stability and international fairness and justice,” the spokesperson noted.

Because China-Pakistan relations are an all-weather strategic partnership, the two sides have extensive and deep common language and interests in major international and regional affairs, Qian noted. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is expected to be an important topic during Shehbaz’s visit to China, he said.

He noted that as the CPEC has entered a high-quality second phase, the two sides will continue to solidify the all-weather strategic partnership, and then strive to promote a smoother development. It is also an important opportunity to drive the close development of political, economic, diplomatic and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries in various fields.

On Tuesday, Hu Zhaoming, spokesperson for the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, also announced that General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong will pay an official visit to China from October 30 to November 2.

Vietnam’s communist party chief and the Pakistani prime minister are the first foreign leaders China has confirmed as upcoming visitors following the conclusion of the 20th CPC National Congress, which reflects that friendly cooperation with neighboring countries will continue to be an important basis of China’s foreign policy, Qian said.

“Both Vietnam and Pakistan are the important neighboring countries for China,” he said. “It can be understood that neighboring countries remain the foundation of China’s future foreign policy. China is laying the foundation for the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind, by continuing to strengthen cooperation with friendly neighboring countries, solidifying neighboring relations and building a neighboring community with a shared future.”

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