Pak, China sign $18 bn deal on Arabian Sea link
Beijing: China and Pakistan today signed eight agreements, including a whopping $18 billion deal to build a 200 km-long strategic tunnel through the rugged PoK, as the two all-weather allies sought to boost economic ties and supply critical oil to the energy-hungry Communist giant.
The agreements were signed after visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held a talks with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang here at the Great Hall of the People.
China has strategic interest in the Pak-China Economic Corridor, Li said on the 200 km-long tunnel which will connect Pakistan's Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea and Kashghar in Xinjiang in northwest China.
China took control of the strategic Gwadar port this year, which gave it access to the Arabian Sea and Strait of Hormuz through which a third of the world's oil is transported.
According to experts, the corridor will speed up development in Xinjiang, which has seen frequent unrest, and also open up a new route for China's energy imports from West Asia. The corridor will pass through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), which borders Xinjiang and provides the only feasible transport link between China and Pakistan.
The USD 18 billion deal was inked by Pakistan's Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal and Chairman National Development and Reforms Commission of China, Xu Shao Shi.
Earlier welcoming Sharif, who chose to visit China for his first foreign tour after returning to power in May, Li said, "I greatly appreciate your great warmth and deep affection for the people of China."
Sharif said his welcome "reminds me of the saying, our friendship is higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the deepest sea in the world, and sweeter than honey".
While discussing bilateral and regional issues, the two leaders agreed to promote the policies aimed at advancing the cause of peace, co-operation and harmony creating a win-win situation in the region, Pakistan's state-run news agency APP reported.
China reaffirmed that its relationship with Pakistan was always a matter of highest priority in its foreign policy, and it would continue to strengthen this strategic partnership.
It vowed to continue extending its full support to Pakistan in the latter's efforts to uphold its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, while respecting the development path chosen by the people according to its national priority, and support Pakistan in maintaining social stability and economic development.