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Mission China: Pakistan PM seeks additional loans and investments

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Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is currently visiting China to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics and meet the Chinese President with a plea for additional loans.

Pakistani media reported that Islamabad is eyeing a $3 billion loan from China besides hopes for Chinese investment into six sectors.

Pakistan English daily Express Tribune recently reported that the government was considering requesting that China approve another $3 billion loan, which could be kept in China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) so as to boost its foreign exchange reserves.

Islamabad is also seeking Chinese investment in the industries of textiles, footwear, pharmaceuticals, furniture, agriculture, automobile and information technology. “The government is expected to tell the 75 Chinese companies that it could provide access to trade routes to the Middle East, Africa and the rest of the world, offering greater incentives in the shape of reduction in freight costs,” according to the Express Tribune report.

Economist Kaiser Bengali believes that Pakistan is now 100% dependent on China for financial and economic assistance. He told German media outlet DW that the immediate purpose of the visit is to seek the loan from Beijing, reflecting Pakistan’s growing reliance on China.

“While the conditions of the IMF are made public, China keeps the terms and conditions of loans and projects secret, which leads to suspicions,” he said.

Baloch nationalists fear that, if Pakistan defaults on its loans, China would seek mining contracts in the mineral-rich province at an extremely discounted rate — or possibly take over the port.

Bengali told DW that such suspicions are exacerbated by the secrecy surrounding Chinese development projects and the terms of the loans.

Pakistan is reciprocating by granting China access to the Indian Ocean and supporting the country at various international fora. It is also silent on reports that Chinese government has been forcing Uyghur Muslims to consume foods that are forbidden in Islam.

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