China wants Pakistan is to break free from burdens of debt through essential financial support: Zhao Shiren

Faisalabad: Chinese Consul General in Lahore, Zhao Shiren said on Wednesday afternoon that China’s primary aim of aiding Pakistan is to break free from the burdens of debt through essential financial support.

During a visit to the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI), Zhao Shiren, emphasized the relatively modest proportion of Chinese debt within Pakistan’s total foreign debt, standing at just 13 percent.

Addressing the gathering of the businesspersons, Zhao assured the business community that China has never pressured Pakistan regarding loan repayments, citing the recent instance of the Chinese government extending the US $2 billion loan repayment period. He pointed out that Pakistan’s foreign loan intake has surpassed its GDP, which stands at $350 billion, underlining China’s role in helping Pakistan navigate its financial challenges.

Regarding the issuance of multiple entry visas to Pakistanis, Zhao mentioned that a select number of multiple visas are granted alongside the standard single and double entry visas.

These multiple visas are approved based on financial status and trade volume with China, he added.

Zhao invited eligible exporters from FCCI to reach out to him for assistance with multiple visas, mentioning that the Chinese embassy is considering extending visa issuance to Lahore.

He noted that 13 chambers of Punjab have been authorized to provide letters of support, with applications being processed through Gerry.

On the agreement on local currency payments between the two governments, Zhao mentioned that while an agreement is in place, it is yet to be signed. He acknowledged former Lahore Chsmbers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) president Mian Muhammad Idrees’s efforts in making payments in local currencies.

Responding to queries about expanding exports, Zhao highlighted the potential for Pakistan to increase exports to Saudi Arabia, UAE, and China, with China opening its domestic market to foreign products.

He emphasized Punjab’s ability to export agricultural, industrial, and finished goods under the Pak-China Free Trade Agreement-2, noting recent developments such as China permitting the import of red chili and beef from Pakistan.

Zhao elaborated on China’s contributions to Pakistan’s technological advancement, particularly in hybrid rice production and corporate farming.

He noted a significant rise in Pakistani exports to China in recent years, despite the modest scale of trade compared to China’s global trade volume of $6 trillion.

Regarding future collaborations under CPEC-2, Zhao highlighted a focus on agriculture, industry relocation, joint ventures, and educational initiatives.

He mentioned the upcoming inauguration of the Gwadar port, along with nearing completion projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhaw and Azad Jammu Kashmir with Chinese assistance. Zhao announced the imminent visits of the Chinese ambassador to Lahore and Faisalabad to engage with the local business community.

The event saw Acting President Dr. Sajjad Arshad of FCCI extending a warm welcome to Zhao Shiren, introducing Faisalabad and the FCCI.

The question-answer session included participation from Engr. Ahmad Hassan, Muhammad Asim Rana, Engr. Babar Shahzad, Nasir Shahzad, and Dr. Najma Afzal.

Muhammad Azhar Chaudhary, an Executive Member, expressed gratitude on behalf of the FCCI, and Acting President Dr. Sajjad Arshad presented the FCCI shield to Zhao Shiren. Mian Muhammad Idrees also presented a set of books published by FCCI’s R&D section on CPEC, while Zhao reciprocated with a gift of traditional Chinese pottery for Dr. Sajjad Arshad.

Zhao Aldo recorded his impressions in the visitor’s book of the FCCI, marking a fruitful interaction between the Chinese consulate and the Faisalabad business community.