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Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulates Shehbaz Sharif

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Beijing, March 3: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday congratulated Shehbaz Sharif on his election as the Prime Minister of Pakistan for a second time and hoped that Beijing and Islamabad will continue to deepen their all-weather strategic cooperative partnership under his leadership.
In his congratulatory message, Xi said he believes that under the leadership of younger Sharif and the new Pakistani government, and with the united efforts of all walks of life in Pakistan, the country will achieve new and greater accomplishments in the cause of national development and progress.
Xi stressed that China and Pakistan should continue their traditional friendship, strengthen exchanges and cooperation in all fields, jointly build an upgraded version of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), continue to deepen the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and build a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era to bring more benefits for the people of the two countries.
In his victory speech, Shehbaz Sharif vowed to further promote the CPEC projects with China, an all-weather ally.
There is a sense of relief among the official circles here that Pakistan, a key ally of China which has been going through grave economic and political crises for the last several years, has an elected government that Beijing could deal with.
China had an uneasy relationship with former prime minister Imran Khan’s government which was blamed for the slow pace of USD 60 billion CPEC.
Both Shehbaz, his brother and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif are familiar political figures for the ruling Chinese Communist Party as both of them along with the Pakistan military strengthened the all-weather alliance during their tenures. They are also firm backers of the strategic CPEC project.
China has been providing forex loans and rollover of its debt periodically to bail out Pakistan which is facing a severe economic crisis.
Recent reports from Islamabad said China has agreed to roll over a USD 2 billion loan due to be paid in March.
Besides Xi, Chinese Premier Li Qiang sent a congratulatory message to Shehbaz, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. (PTI)

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