On his departure from Islamabad, Khan had said that he expected Chinese support to build foreign exchange reserves and avoid a possible bailout from IMF. Pakistan has reasons to be disappointed unless China announced a financial package before Khan left for home on Monday.
A joint statement issued by the two countries talks about India’s difficulties with Pakistan. “China supports Pakistan’s efforts for improvement of Pakistan-India relations and for settlement of outstanding disputes between the two countries,” it said. The joint statement also expressed Beijing’s support for a seat for Pakistan in the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG).
“China appreciates and supports steps taken by Pakistan for strengthening the global non-proliferation regime. In this context, China supports Pakistan’s engagement with the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group and welcomes its adherence of NSG guidelines,” the nuanced statement said.
China has consistently blocked Indian attempts to join the NSG on the plea that it was not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). This yardstick does not seem to apply when it comes to its “all-weather” friend Pakistan.
Beijing appeared trying to enhance its image in Pakistan even at the cost of affecting the “Wuhan spirit” of mutual friendship with India that emerged during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping last April.
On its part, Pakistan expressed its support for active participation of China on the platform of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).
Khan did not seem to have achieved anything substantial in material terms. There was no concrete promise from China about improving the balance of trade, which is tilted against Pakistan.
China merely said the issue would be sorted out once the two countries finalized the free trade agreement (FTA), which they were now discussing. The move would put Islamabad under pressure to sign the FTA as soon as possible.
Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, had promised to review the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) from the viewpoint of financial arrangements and location of projects. Beijing did not seem to accept Pakistan’s demand. But CPEC would be altered to include more industrial plans, particularly the creation of industrial parks, and more joint venture projects.