China’s Xi Jinping has expressed concerns with Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif over the safety of its citizens in Balochistan and Gwadar regions who are working on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
“I am deeply concerned about the security of Chinese people in Pakistan and hope that Pakistan will provide a reliable and safe environment for Chinese institutions and personnel going to Pakistan for cooperation,” Xi told Sharif in their meeting at the ornate Great Hall of People in Beijing, according to an official statement.
The Pakistani PM reaffirmed his commitment to the safety and security of all Chinese nationals, projects and institutions in Pakistan during his two-day visit to China from November 1.
During the bilateral meeting, both sides decided to counter all threats and designs against CPEC and China-Pakistan friendship. The Chinese side appreciated Pakistan’s determination and “vigorous measures” in this regard.
Sharif had met Xi last month on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit at Samarkand in Uzbekistan.
In the Samarkand meeting, Xi had called for providing solid protection for hundreds of Chinese working on the CPEC projects.
With recurring attacks on its workers, China is reportedly pressing Pakistan to permit the Chinese security agencies to provide security for their personnel which, according to press reports, Islamabad is resisting as it meant boots on the ground for Chinese armed forces.
Both countries also decided to enhance “cooperation, trust and communication between their armed forces” with mil-to-mil visits, joint exercises and military training, underscoring stronger strategic defence and security cooperation between China and Pakistan is an important factor of peace and stability in the region.
The two sides reiterated that a peaceful and prosperous South Asia is in the common interest of all parties. They emphasised the importance of resolving all outstanding disputes through sincere dialogue.
The Pakistani side briefed China about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir to which Beijing reiterated that the issue should be “properly and peacefully resolved” based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.
Meanwhile, Xi Jinping had said that he would visit Pakistan at his ‘earliest convenience’. Both sides also agreed to hold the Foreign Minister’s Strategic Dialogue in the first half of 2023 in Islamabad.
(With inputs from PTI)
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