Pakistan, China sign 7 deals on projects
Visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz yesterday concluded a series of agreements on major projects with Chinese leaders, injecting new economic energy into the bilateral a relationship marked by an "all-weather" partnership.
The primary objective of Aziz's visit is economic links and enhanced commercial interactions, according to Pakistan officials. They added that Pakistan hopes to expand co-operation with Chinese private and small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Yesterday, the two sides penned seven agreements, including a protocol on issues involving preferential trade arrangements and a free trade agreement, and vowed to discuss details on establishing a free trade zone between the two countries.
In addition, Aziz announced yesterday that Pakistan recognizes China's full market economy status.
The prime minister, with an 80-member entourage that includes senior officials and business leaders, will also visit the commercial port of Shanghai on Friday and hold talks with business people there to encourage them to invest in Pakistan.
During yesterday's meeting, Premier Wen Jiabao suggested the two sides give priority to the exploration of energy and resources in their future economic co-operation and strengthen exchanges in the field of agriculture.
Expressing appreciation for China's official support and economic aid to the social development of Pakistan, Aziz said his country welcomes additional Chinese entrepreneurs.
The two countries have undertaken a number of key infrastructure projects in Pakistan, including roads, dams, ports and hydroelectric plants.
Currently, more than 3,000 Chinese nationals are working in Pakistan on major projects.
This is also the first high-level visit of any Pakistani leader to China after the October's hostage-taking episode near South Waziristan that culminated in the death of a Chinese engineer working on the Gomal Zam dam project.
Although the Chinese side has indicated the tragedy would not influence China-Pakistan co-operation, some worried it would shake Chinese nationals' confidence of working on economic projects in Pakistan and affect Chinese capital injection there.
The leaders of the two countries yesterday also exchanged views on regional and international issues, including the India-Pakistan peace process and anti-terrorism campaign.
Beijing welcomed and supported the ongoing Indo-Pakistani peace process.
Meanwhile, Wen called China and Pakistan, which are threatened by terrorism and extremism, to jointly implement prevention measures and enhance co-operation in anti-terrorism efforts.
Last year, the two countries conducted their first joint naval exercises near the Shanghai coast.
The highly successful drill, simulating an emergency rescue, was the first time either country had engaged in joint naval operations with another nation.