Islamabad: Pakistani and Chinese businessmen signed deals worth 15 billion U.S. dollars on Saturday (December 18), the latest sign of growing cooperation between two allies, as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao demonstrated Beijing’s assertive diplomacy on a visit to Islamabad. Eighteen deals signed by the private sector during Wen’s second day of his visit will add to nearly 20 billion U.S. dollars worth of deals concluded by the two governments.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, accompanied by Wen, promoted boosting ties at a forum of Pakistani and Chinese businessmen on Saturday.
“I urge entrepreneurs from both China and Pakistan to take advantage of natural economic commonalities that exist between the two countries and make economic and trade partnership the real driver for common development and shared prosperity. The Pakistan government has announced special economic incentives for Chinese investors including duty free import of plant and machinery, exemption from sales tax and income tax,” Gilani told the audience.
He added that the government will introduce special economic incentives for Chinese investors including duty free import of plant and machinery, exemption from sales tax and income tax.
The latest deals cover cooperation in the areas of oil and gas, mining, space technology, heavy machinery manufacturing, seafood, oceanology and electronic products.
While boosting trade and investment have been the main focus of Wen’s visit to Pakistan — the first in five years by a Chinese premier — analysts say the trip was largely aimed at giving assurance to old friend Pakistan that China’s improving ties with its old rival, India, does not come at Islamabad’s expense.
Wen visited India and signed 16 billion U.S. dollars in deals before arriving in Islamabad on Friday, but his visit to Pakistan was about more than money.
Hamayoun Khan, an independent analyst and former China-Pakistan expert at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, said in India, that Wen did not talk about Mumbai, terrorism or visa issue in Kashmir, which India wanted, which was signalled China’s growing, assertive diplomacy.
Gilani said growing cooperation between Islamabad and Beijing did not pose danger to any other country. China is the main supplier of defence and military hardware to Pakistan. China also helped Pakistan build its main nuclear power generation facility and is helping build another one.
China wants to use Pakistan as a gateway to the Muslim world and as a new Silk Road for China’s energy-hungry interior, as well as a balance against India’s military rise.
Pakistan, in turn, plans to further rely on China for the bulk of its weapon systems, as a major investor for its ports and roads, and as a counterweight to American demands and conditions in the fight against Islamist militancy.-Reuters