Beijing: China has invited Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for a two-day visit beginning November 1 in Beijing where he will meet President Xi Jinping, who this week began his norm-breaking third term as Communist party general secretary, and outgoing Premier Li Keqiang, the Chinese foreign ministry said.
Sharif will be one of the first leaders to visit China and meet Xi after the latter emerged from the Communist Party of China (CPC) 20th national congress as the country’s most powerful leader since founder, Mao Zedong.
China’s decision to invite Sharif within a week of Xi’s new tenure is a clear sign of close strategic ties between Beijing and Islamabad.
“At the invitation of Premier Li Keqiang, PM Shehbaz Sharif of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan will pay an official visit to China starting from 1st November,” Wang Wenbin, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson announced.
This would be Sharif’s first visit to China since assuming office in April 2022 and follows his meeting with President Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan on September 16 during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.
A high-level delegation, including foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, will accompany him on the two-day tour, Pakistan’s foreign office separately announced.
Sharif’s visit comes in the backdrop of attacks against Chinese nationals including people of Chinese origin in Pakistan.
Beijing has provided financial aid to Islamabad besides supplying it with key military equipment including fighter jets and warships.