Li’s visit went beyond symbolic: Pakistani daily

Islamabad, May 24 (IANS) Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s two-day Pakistan visit “went beyond the symbolic”, said a daily which noted China is a wealthy neighbour that “does not hand out free lunches”.

Li’s visit “went beyond the symbolic – significant because he was here at a crucial time in our political history, with the process of transition from one government to another now in train,” said an editorial in the News International.

Li visited Pakistan as part of his first foreign tour after becoming the premier of China. India formed the first leg of his visit.

The daily said that the agreements to work on improving overall connectivity between China and Pakistan and the building of an economic corridor “speak of a long-term set of relationships that, if the collapse of the energy sector can be averted in time, is going to feed through to a revival of our economy”.

“If the power sector gets fixed the economy automatically gets an adrenaline rush…”

Bilateral trade is worth $12.4 billion annually and it is hoped it can be boosted to $15 billion in the next two or three years.

The editorial said that a basket of agreements were signed which “if implemented in full are going to have a positive impact upon Pakistan”.

“…It is vital that Pakistan strengthen its links with China.

“China is a neighbour and is vastly wealthy but does not hand out free lunches. It expects to see a return on its investment and it is going to be up to the incoming government to make the 12 agreements signed this week become a working reality.”

It went on to say if the Pakistani economy does begin to recover then Pakistan needs places to sell its finished goods.

“China is a vast market, bigger even than India, and does not have the same tensions around a trading relationship. Just possibly a Chinese lantern has been lit at the end of a long and very dark tunnel,” the daily added.

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