Strengthening the nation's strategic partnership with Pakistan is a diplomatic priority for Beijing, President Xi Jinping told Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday, adding that an economic corridor linking the two nations should be properly established.
Sharif, who arrived in Beijing on Wednesday to begin his first diplomatic trip since his inauguration last month, also called for Chinese involvement in his nation's energy and infrastructure projects, as Islamabad attempts to head off an economic crisis.
Xi pledged to enhance pragmatic co-operation between the two countries, describing Pakistan as a "good neighbour, friend, partner and brother of China".
"The friendship between the two nations is deep-rooted and too strong to break," Xi told Sharif, according to state broadcaster CCTV. Xi's wife, Peng Liyuan, was also at the meeting.
Sharif's visit comes less than two months after Premier Li Keqiang visited Pakistan in May, diplomatic efforts that observers say are an attempt to demonstrate the countries strong relationship.
In meetings with Xi and representatives of Chinese institutions, Sharif pledged to provide a safe environment for Chinese investors and promised that both sides would benefit from an economic corridor linking Pakistan's Gwadar Port and Kashgar in the restive Chinese region of Xinjiang .
The corridor would consist of a series of special economic zones, a rail link, and possibly a pipeline, serving as an alternate route to the Strait of Malacca, observers said.
A state-owned Chinese company was given the right in February to operate Gwadar Port.
Sharif said a credit line and a special fund for the economic corridor should be established, adding the route would make it easier for Chinese businesses to export goods to the Middle East and Europe through Pakistani territory.
For his part, Xi said the two nations should step up co-ordination and planning of the corridor.
"The two nations should facilitate each other with their advantages, while aiming to integrate their interests to seek common development," Xi said.
Sharif said Chinese companies could participate in the building of mass transit lines in Karachi and a high-speed rail link between Karachi and Peshawar. He also invited Chinese involvement in a number of coal and solar energy projects.
Sharif will meet with Premier Li today before going to Shanghai by high-speed train for a China-Pakistan Energy Forum. He is expected to meet with representatives of a power company in Guangzhou before flying home on Monday.