President Zardari arrives in China on three-day visit

Guangzhou: President Asif Ali Zardari Thursday evening arrived in Guangzhou in China to witness the opening of the 16th Asian games and to use the occasion for holding bilateral meetings with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, besides meeting China’s provincial political leaders and leaders of the corporate sector on the sidelines of the mega sports event.The President was received at the airport by Vice Governor of Guangdong Liu Kun, Vice Mayor of Guangzhou Chen Mingde and Pakistan’s ambassador Masood Khan.Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will also arrive later on Thursday to witness the opening of the Asian games.
The Presidential entourage includes Salim Mandviwala Chairman Board of Investment, Syed Mehdi Shah Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Malik Amad Khan and Interior Minister Rahman Malik.Briefing journalists Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar said that the forthcoming visit is the sixth undertaken by the President since he became the President over two years ago.The frequent visits to China are in line with the President’s announcement made during his first visit to China in October 2008 that he will frequently visit China to boost some new initiatives that the government had decided to take to further promote the economic ties between the two countries, he said.During the two-day visit the President, besides participating in the opening of the Asian Games, will also address the Pakistan-China Economic Cooperation Forum and hold discussion with corporate leaders of energy, construction, mining, petroleum, engineering, shipping, finance and banking sectors.

During last visit to China in July this year the President visited pavilions of Pakistan and China at Shanghai Expo showcasing economic and industrial progress of the two countries.To reach out to the Chinese people and step up peoples to peoples contacts the President will also have media interactions during his stay in Guangzhou.During the last two years more than five dozen new initiatives have been undertaken and nearly forty MoUs signed, he said.The new economic initiatives that have been launched recently include building hydro dams, transfer of hybrid technology, expanding banking operations, roads and communication networks, cooperation in agriculture aimed at optimum utilization of irrigation water and development of new high yielding varieties of wheat and cotton, the proposed Thar Coal project and dredging of Tarbela reservoir.Just a day ahead of the China visit the President held two separate meetings on Wednesday; one to review progress on the hybrid seeds of cotton, wheat and rice and the other on the Thar Coal gasification project. Last week the government also decided to give incentives to Chinese firms which complete energy related projects ahead of the scheduled time.

Soon after arrival in the hotel, Ambassador Masood Khan gave a detailed briefing to the President. Ambassador Khan informed the President that the two- way trade between the two countries was around 7 billion dollars which though much more than the $ 2 billion in 2002 was still far below the trade potential of the two countries.Ambassador Masood Khan also informed the President that nearly 120 Chinese enterprises were working in Pakistan. Under the Five Year Program for trade and economic cooperation more than 60 projects have been identified, nearly half of which have been launched.A Pakistan-China Joint Investment Company (JIC) has been established to facilitate investment. Chinese have invested in Pakistan in telecommunications, energy, infrastructure, heavy engineering, IT, mining, and defence production.

Farhatullah Babar said that President Zardari has been advocating providing access to China to markets in the Gulf countries through Pakistani ports as the ports of Shanghai and Hong Kong are too far away from at least half of mainland China and it was in the strategic interest of Beijing and Islamabad to develop this strategic communication link.During the July visit China pledged to provide 50 million Yuan grant to Pakistan for new projects besides the two countries signing an agreement on economic and technical cooperation and four MoUs in health, geological survey, and agriculture that were also witnessed by the two Presidents.During the last visit instruments of ratification were also exchanged as a follow up of the Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. Another Memorandum of Understanding was signed aimed at cooperation between Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation and China Radio International for Urdu service broadcasts in selected Pakistani cities on FM channel, he said.He said that during the last two years more than five dozen new initiatives have been undertaken and nearly forty MoUs signed – App