China asks Pakistan PM Imran Khan for support on Uygur issue during Winter Olympics in return for loans
New Delhi: China and its all-weather friend, Pakistan, are both euphoric about the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing starting from February 3.
“I am pleased to announce that the first PM that President Xi will meet physically one-on -one post Covid outbreak will be none other than PM Imran Khan of Pakistan,” says the Chinese state media.
Khan will be attending the opening ceremony of Beijing winter Olympics on Thursday, which is boycotted by the West including the US, Australia, and Britain, because of widespread allegations of Chinese atrocities against the Uyghur community.
But defending China, Pakistan PM Imran khan accused the West of double standards on human rights. “On one side they talk about Xinjiang, but on the other, there is this silence on Kashmir, which is deafening for us,” Khan told the Chinese media before his China visit, adding that he had sent his ambassador to Xinjiang and found that the allegations against Beijing were “actually not true on the ground”.
And Beijing wants to highlight this with the presence of Imran Khan during the opening ceremony.
“The presence of the global cricketing superstar offers China a PR boost as he says Western claims over rights abuses in Xinjiang are ‘not true on the ground’,” says the Hong Kong based paper South China Morning Post in its report.
Behind Pakistan leader Imran Khan’s smiles for the Beijing Winter Olympics, there’s a cap in his hand.
Khan too said that he was too excited to witness his first ever Olympics, but the main purpose of his China visit was to persuade his Iron brother Xi Jinping to give a $3bn loan.
“Imran Khan is requesting China to approve another loan to the tune of $3 billion in China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, known as SAFE deposits, so as to boost its foreign exchange reserves,” says the daily.
“China has already placed around $11 billion with Pakistan in the shape of commercial loans and foreign exchange reserves support initiatives, including $4 billion in SAFE deposits. Beijing’s money is part of the nation’s current official foreign exchange reserves recorded at $16.1 billion. It is to stabilise Pakistan’s dwindling foreign currency reserves and boost investment in various sectors of the economy,” says Kamran Yusuf, a Pakistan journalist.
But that is not the end of Khan’s problems. He is dependent heavily on two lender countries – China and Saudi Arabia. Previously, China has been helping the Imran Khan government for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is the main part of Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Quoting the Pakistani journalist Najam Sethi, the reports says that Khan would probably seek more loans from Beijing as well as its help with managing repayments on US$7 billion owed to the Chinese government and its state-owned banks.
But this would not be that easy for Khan in this current scenario where his deteriorating relations with his selector – Pakistan’s military establishment.
The report underlines that the relations between Khan and Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa have grown since Khan refused last year to support military-led confidence-building measures with India, following backchannel talks which last February yielded a ceasefire along the disputed Kashmir border after years of skirmishes. The relationship further worsened when Imran Khan tried to resist Bajwa’s decision to appoint a new chief of ISI. Bajwa is also unhappy with Khan’s repeated popular rhetoric against the West, particularly the US because traditionally the Pakistani military establishment is more pro-US than China.
Khan knows this and has repeatedly told his partymen that the next three months are very vital for his government.
Beijing’s other major concerns are the deteriorating security situations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Chinese leaders have been unhappy over the pace of work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in the recent months. They have bluntly conveyed this to Islamabad.
Interestingly, this is the first visit of Khan to Beijing without the Army Chief Bajwa. Clearly, the tension between the two and Khan’s diving popularity and his efforts of appeasing the radical forces in the country will not go unnoticed in Beijing.