As Shehbaz Sharif holds the chair of Pakistan’s Prime Minister, China on Tuesday congratulated the leader and sent out a straight message hoping for the swift completion of its ambitious China-Pak Economic Corridor. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, while congratulating Pakistan’s 23rd PM said, “China looks forward to working with Pakistan to build a high-quality China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and an even closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.”
The ouster of the former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is being perceived as a fresh opportunity for Beijing to mend its strained relations with Pakistan. The Chinese Spokesperson divulged Beijing’s expectations from the upcoming regime and underscored that the future of their relationship hinges on the progress of the C-PEC Project.
Congratulations to Mr. Shahbaz Sharif on the election as the Prime Minister of #Pakistan! China looks forward to working with Pakistan to build a high-quality China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and an even closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era. pic.twitter.com/2p8VqtQjxS — Spokesperson发言人办公室 (@MFA_China) April 12, 2022
Earlier, ahead of the ‘no-trust’ motion in Islamabad, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had said, “China-Pakistan’s all-weather strategic cooperative partnership has withstood the test.”
Why China is happy about regime change in Pakistan?
Even though the duo have concealed the unease between the two nations by claiming that they have an ‘all-weather relationship,’ the events of the past are reflective of the growing constraints between the two. China-Pak’s ‘iron clad relationship’ was in choppy waters after sharp differences created a wedge between the two nations over the ambitious $6.8 billion railway project under C-PEC.
China was unsatisfied with the slow progress of the economic corridor under Imran Khan’s regime and Islamabad’s growing dependence on the nation for debt. Besides, consistent attacks by the militants on the C-PEC corridor and Chinese investments were another reason for Beijing’s growing disinterest.
Despite spending over $11 billion on commercial loans and foreign exchange reserve assistance schemes in Pakistan, including $4 billion in SAFE deposits, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expected China to contribute an additional $3 billion. China and Saudi Arabia are significant contributors to Pakistan’s economy, which is already in shambles. Beijing’s money is included in the country’s $16.1 billion official foreign exchange reserves to stabilise Pakistan’s dwindling foreign currency reserves.
It is worth noting that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) saw more development under the previous Nawaz Sharif administration. Furthermore, China always had reservations about Imran Khan because he was a fierce critic of the CPEC project when in opposition, but after assuming office in 2018, he became a staunch supporter.
With Inputs from agencies