Pakistan, Islamabad News : China and Pakistan should make cooperation on power generation a priority, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said, as Islamabad seeks to end an energy crisis that triggers power cuts of up to 20 hours a day, bringing the economy to a near standstill.
Li arrived in the Pakistan capital under extra-tight security on Wednesday on the second leg of his first official trip since taking office in March and after a visit to Pakistan and China’s arch rival, India.
Li’s plane was escorted by six air force fighter jets as it entered Pakistani air space. Security measures also included shutting down mobile phone networks briefly across the city.
Pakistan was one of the first countries to switch diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China, in 1950, and Li told a lunch attended by Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif and President Asif Zardari that China and Pakistan should remain “trustworthy partners.”
Li said there was still “great potential” for the relationship. Bilateral trade last year rose above $12 billion for the first time and both sides are aiming to reach $15 billion in the next two or three years.
“Our two sides should focus on carrying out priority projects in connectivity, energy development and power generation and promoting the building of a China-Pakistan economic corridor,” Li told media.
The power shortages have sparked violent protests and crippled key industries, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs in a country already beset by high unemployment, a failing economy, widespread poverty, sectarian bloodshed and a Taliban insurgency.
The two countries signed a series of cooperation documents covering the economy, culture, and science and technology.
Pakistan and China signed eleven agreements, Memoranda of Understanding and documents to strengthen and diversify cooperation in economy, science and technology, space and upper atmosphere communication and boundary management.
These were signed by officials of the two countries at a ceremony held at the presidency after talks between President Zardari and the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. The two leaders witnessed the signing ceremony.
The agreements include those on economic and technical cooperation, boundary management system, Sino-Pak Border Posts and their Management System, satellite navigation, and establishment of Confucius Institute at Karachi University.
The MoUs signed by the two countries included those on Maritime Cooperation, Cooperation for Long Term Plan on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Cooperation in the field of Marine Science and Technology.
“Both sides have a desire to converge China’s strategy to boost domestic demand and develop its western region and Pakistan’s desire to further deepen its economic development,” Li said after the signing. Reuters