PM Imran meets Chinese President Xi in Beijing

President Xi told the Pakistani premier that he highly valued the two countries' relations, reaffirming they were "all-weather" friends. "It is an economic cooperation project between China and Pakistan and not targeted at any third party".

However, the Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, told Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in a separate meeting that China would not let Pakistan down.

It would be Pakistan's 13th rescue package from the multilateral lender since the late 1980s.

Khan, who is here on his maiden visit, met Xi in the Great Hall of People where the two leaders also held one-on-one meeting besides delegation-level talks, Pakistani media reports said.

"Pakistan looks forward to strengthening its cooperation with the AIIB", he said, informing the AIIB president that his government has prioritized economic revival and structural reforms.

He said Pakistan faced a deficit of United States dollars 27 billion which included USD 9 billion debt repayment this year.

Pakistan admires China's development achievements and hopes to learn from China's experience in development, poverty alleviation and anti-corruption, Khan said.

"After taking monetary and fiscal measures, in my opinion, our financing gap for this year will be around $12 billion", he said. The South Asian economy needs to plug a shortfall after foreign exchange reserves plunged more than 40 percent this year, the current account deficit widened and the currency lost a quarter of its value since December.

In the meeting, the two sides discussed strengthening of bilateral relations and matters of mutual regional and worldwide interests, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

An IMF delegation is due to visit China next week and the Khan government wants to minimise the bailout package it seeks from the global lender.

After meetings on Friday and Saturday in Beijing, Khan flies to Shanghai where he will attend the first China International Import Expo, where he will be a keynote speaker.

The so-called "CPEC" involves a host of projects with an aim to connect China's Xinjiang province with Balochistan's Gwadar port.

The Prime Minister, who left on a four-day official visit to China said that low crime was easy to check but tackling white collar crime needed speciality and expertise which Pakistan was struggling.

The CPEC has also become a major irritant in India-China relations with New Delhi voicing its opposition to the infrastructure project as it traverses through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

"In 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that it is only by respecting the autonomy of countries involved, there can be regional connectivity and avoid differences and disorientation".

"Basically, aside from the contracts that have been agreed and the projects that are moving ahead on the ground, which is the $19 billion worth, everything else is up for grabs as far as they (China) are concerned", Small said.

  • Anthony Vega