Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said Pakistan could learn more from its all-weather strategic partner China than any other country in the world.
“We have a lot to learn from China. China went through a lot of problems that we face right now,” Khan told reporters in Beijing as he began his first official visit to the country since becoming prime minister
“Like Pakistan, China too had a lot of corruption and poverty. But the way it has dealt with corruption and poverty has been an example for not just Pakistan but for a lot of the developing world,” he said.
“We can learn more from China because China has recently developed as opposed to western economies, which are way ahead of us in terms of their development evolution,” he said.
The prime minister stressed on the economic potential of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“CPEC has given a great opportunity to Pakistan to bring in foreign investment and get out of the difficult economic situation which we are in,” he said.
“Pakistan has enormous potential, but unfortunately through mismanagement, we have not really achieved that potential through poor governance, [and] corruption being one of the main reasons. Corruption is always a reason that stops a country from achieving its potential,” he said, adding that China could share with Pakistan its expertise in fighting white-collar crime, which the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led Pakistani government is also trying to combat.
“Since president Xi came to power, big powerful names have been convicted of corruption [in China],” he said, adding that fighting corruption was the number one area that he hoped to learn about during his visit to China.
But he said that poverty alleviation was another important area in which his country could gain from Beijing.
“What China has achieved, no country in human history has managed to achieve, getting 700 million people out of poverty in 30 years,” he said.
Khan said the main plank of his party’s manifesto was to bring people out of poverty, and that it was one area where he looked forward to meeting the Chinese leadership and learning from all the various steps taken by China to bring people out of poverty.
Trade imbalance with China
Khan also spoke about the high level of Chinese exports to Pakistan and an ‘imbalance’ of Pakistani exports to the neighbouring country.
“Pakistan needs to export. Our trade balance with China is imbalanced. We import far, far more than we export to China. We want to get some help in pushing our exports. Our main problem in Pakistan right now is the current account deficit,” he said.
He said that Pakistan’s main export was textile and that he hoped his country would be able to export more value added textiles.
We have agricultural products, sports goods, surgical exquipment, leather goods.
He said he hoped to learn more from China about urban development, fighting pollution, improving agricultural yields, and several other areas.
The Pakistani premier arrived in Beijing earlier on Thursday on a five-day official visit from November 2 to 5 on the invitation of the Chinese leadership during which he will hold meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and other leaders.
This is PM Imran’s first official visit to China since assuming office in August this year. A high-level delegation, including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, is accompanying the prime minister.
According to the Foreign Office, during the visit the two sides will review the entire range of bilateral relations during the visit, which have enjoyed a long history of mutual trust and mutual support. The two leaderships will also sign several agreements in diverse fields.
PM Imran is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on November 2. He will visit the Monument to the People’s Heroes at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and also meet the chairman of the National People’s Congress on November 3.
He will meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang the same day at a ceremony during which the two leaders will sign memorandums of agreements between the two countries.
On November 4, the PM will speak at the Central Party School before leaving for Shanghai to participate in the first China International Import Expo. The premier will be a keynote speaker at the inauguration of the expo, and among 18 heads of state and government who will be attending the expo.
More than 2,800 companies from 130 countries and regions, and 160,000 buyers from over 80,000 Chinese and foreign companies will participate in the expo.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson on Wednesday said China and Pakistan attached great importance to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit and believed that, with joint efforts of both sides, it would promote further development of relations between the all-weather strategic partners.
“This is his first official visit to China since Prime Minister Imran Khan took office, in which, the leaders of the two countries will conduct in-depth exchanges on issues of common concern,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said during his regular briefing in Beijing.
The spokesperson said China and Pakistan were all-weather strategic partners. The relationship between the two countries was not affected by the changes in the international situation and the changes in their respective domestic situations, he added.