ISLAMABAD: Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong held meetings with the Pakistani Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and Army Chief on Monday, where all three leaders reiterated their dedication to the successful completion of projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
During his visit to Beijing in October 2023, Pakistani PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar announced the completion of over 50 projects valued at $25 billion under the CPEC, a flagship initiative of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), with over $65 billion committed for various infrastructure developments, including roads and railways.
Despite progress, concerns persist due to attacks by separatist and militant groups on Chinese projects in Pakistan, resulting in the loss of Chinese personnel and raising apprehensions about the security of foreign investments and workers.
“Recalling his visit to Beijing for the 3rd Belt and Road Forum in October 2023, the Prime Minister expressed deep appreciation for the warm sentiments of President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang towards Pakistan,” stated Kakar’s office after the meeting with Sun, who is currently visiting Islamabad.
“The Prime Minister reiterated Pakistan’s unwavering commitment to the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and emphasized the necessity for both sides to continue working closely to ensure the timely completion of ongoing projects.”
Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani also engaged in discussions with Sun at his office, covering various aspects of bilateral relations, including CPEC and economic cooperation. Jilani stressed the significance of CPEC for Pakistan and affirmed the country’s dedication to realizing its full potential for shared benefits.
During his visit to the military headquarters in Rawalpindi, Sun met with General Syed Asim Munir, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), and acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts towards regional peace and stability. Sun also conveyed China’s satisfaction with the security arrangements for CPEC projects.
The strong ties between the two militaries demonstrated through bilateral exercises in each other’s territory, date back several years. China’s strategic interest in Pakistan, particularly its access to the Arabian Sea, is crucial in the event of a maritime blockade in the Strait of Malacca.
While concerns exist, especially in neighboring India, about China’s growing influence in the region, with its first overseas military base in Djibouti, there is no confirmation regarding China seeking military access to Pakistan’s Chinese-funded deepwater port of Gwadar. Speculation about a possible Chinese military base in Pakistan, with Gwadar as a likely location, has raised concerns in New Delhi about increasing Chinese military alliances and assets in the region.