PM Imran Khan in China for search of more bail out packages to tackle economic woes

BEIJING: New Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is on official visit to China where he will meet President Xi Jinping, on a trip seen as vital to Islamabad’s efforts to obtain fresh loans to prop up the economy.

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Khan, accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, is leading a delegation from Nov. 2-5 which will sign several agreements on “diverse fields”, the foreign ministry said in a statement. Khan is also set to meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Last week Pakistan received a $6 billion rescue package from Saudi Arabia, but officials say it is not enough and the country still plans to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to avert a balance of payments crisis.

Though China is now Pakistan’s closest ally, Khan’s newly elected government has sought to re-think the two countries’ signature project, the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which Beijing touts as the flagship infrastructure program in its vast Belt and Road Initiative.

Pakistan has sought to amend CPEC to put greater emphasis on projects that focus on social development, rather than purely on infrastructure.

“Prime minister’s visit is expected to provide further impetus to enhancing the existing strategic ties between Pakistan and China and break new grounds for broadening the bilateral partnership,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

After visiting Beijing, Khan is set to be a key note speaker at the First China International Import Expo in Shanghai, the ministry added.

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