Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced a $9.85 billion high-speed rail project during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. Shehbaz Sharif is now on a tour of China. On November 2, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced the establishment of a high-speed rail program.
According to Sharif’s office, it is “a project of strategic importance.” As part of the project, a 1,871-kilometer colonial-era railway from Karachi to Peshawar would be renovated to allow high-speed trains. Pakistan formally approved the project on Monday without specifying the source of funding or the technical parameters. The United States has chastised China for using “debt diplomacy” to shackle developing countries to Beijing.
China will export technology for 160 km/h high-speed railway trains to Pakistan, according to state broadcaster CCTV on Wednesday. The first batch of 46 railway carriages has been loaded and will be delivered on November 3. According to the source, Pakistan will get the components for an additional 184 carriages, which will then be assembled, marking China’s first export of the technology.
President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met earlier today and agreed to expand their strategic partnership, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The two leaders met in China’s People’s Great Hall and discussed broad economic and investment cooperation, as well as exchanging views on local and global trends.
Shehbaz and Xi also discussed how the two countries’ “all-weather strategic cooperation partnership” should be fostered further. PM Shehbaz is expected to have a busy day in Beijing today. He will most likely meet with Pakistani firms and Chinese investors in addition to Premier Li Keqiang. The Pakistani prime minister arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a two-day formal meeting with the Chinese president, during which he will meet with Chinese officials, review their “all-weather strategic cooperation partnership,” and discuss local and international issues.
When the prime minister arrived in Beijing with a high-level entourage, he was greeted cordially by senior Chinese officials.
Following the historic 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), at which Xi Jinping was elected as the party’s new general secretary, the premier is one of the first world leaders to visit China. The decision coincides with the world’s second-largest economy delaying some lending due to economic concerns.
China postponed a bailout for Pakistan earlier this year as its debt soared, and it has reduced lending to Africa as its economy deteriorates. According to a September study from the International Monetary Fund, China, including state-owned commercial banks, is the beneficiary of about 30% of Pakistan’s foreign debt.
Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Pakistan’s outlook from stable to negative in June due to financial concerns. During their meetings, Xi and Sharif agreed to finalize the details of a Karachi inner-city train route. The Chinese leader also stated that his country would provide 500 million yuan ($68.7 million) to Pakistan to aid in rehabilitation following the summer flooding that forced more than 500,000 people to lose their houses.
According to a statement from the People’s Bank of China, the two countries’ central banks also inked a memorandum of cooperation on yuan clearing in Pakistan on Wednesday. According to the Bloomberg report, no other information was provided. Shehbaz and Xi agreed to strengthen their strategic alliance, which includes the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, during their meeting in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
The official media stated that, in addition to speeding the development of facilities for the Gwadar Seaport and other infrastructure projects such as trains and roads, China and Pakistan should move more quickly to establish their economic corridor. Shehbaz also spoke with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee Chairman Li Zhanshu separately during the day. Shehbaz was in China with a high-level delegation on a two-day official visit.