China wants early completion of projects signed with Pakistan: official

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Says Pakistan is China’s second largest trade partner with a $14b balance of trade between the two countries in last year compared to $8.8b in the previous year

China wants to ensure an early and transparent completion of all 19 agreements recently inked during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the republica, a senior Chinese official said on Friday.

Briefing the media in Islamabad, the official, who wished not to be named, said energy sector-related projects will be functional by 2018. “Out of these 19 projects, 13 are related to the energy sector,” the official said.

Listing big investments between the two countries, the official said Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, Gwadar port and the recently launched Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank are the most significant engagements between the two neighbours.

“I cannot tell the exact value of these projects, but for us, the execution of the same is a challenge as we have signed these documents with firm commitment,” he said.

In response to a question, the official said, “We will not comment on any rumour; we are focusing [on the] execution of these projects [which are] of immense importance that will enhance our friendship.”

He asked the media to follow all the projects inked as per the standard of the International Court of Business and to check their claim regarding early and transparent execution of these projects.

Responding to another question, he said most Chinese companies are already working in Pakistani markets for a while, further stating that they are credible.

“We will make sure no fake company can take benefit of the situation,” he said, adding that Pakistan has become the second largest trade partner of China, where $14 billion was the balance of trade between the two countries in the last year compared to $8.8 billion in the year before that – with a 10% annual growth.

Keeping in view the lasting friendship, mutual cooperation and consensus on almost all issues, China gave Pakistan the status of ‘Iron Brother’.

“We will not let our friend suffer in testing times,” the official said. He said China’s projects are for all Pakistanis.

The official made it clear the projects were signed without any political precondition. Citing visits of the leaders of both countries, he said it is the greater engagement that also shows strategic thinking behind mutual relations of both countries.

The official said the issue of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) was also discussed at length.

“ETIM is an international terrorist group,” the official said, adding that the ideology of the group to use force even against innocent people has become a serious security challenge for China.”

The Chinese official said “We appreciate Pakistan’s response to this. We appreciate the military operation in Federally Administered Tribal Areas against militants, and we acknowledge sacrifices rendered by Pakistan against terrorism. We also discussed regional issues, and China supports Pakistan’s peace efforts in Afghanistan,” the Chinese official said.

“We are strong friends – ‘Iron Brothers’ – and we will continue to discuss issues of mutual benefit and cooperation with each other,” the official concluded.