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China, Pakistan to sign $46-billion infrastructure, defence deals

16 April 2015

China and Pakistan will cement their military and economic cooperation with energy and infrastructure projects worth $46 billion. Chinese President Xi Jinping is arriving in Pakistan next week to launch the projects that would also generate opportunities for Chinese firms hit by a sluggish domestic economy.

The projects include a Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, a planned $46-billion network of roads, railways and energy projects linking Pakistan's deepwater Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with China's far-western Xinjiang region.

China will also finalise a long-pending plan to sell Pakistan eight submarines, in a deal worth $4 to $5 billion, according to media reports.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said Xi will visit next Monday and Tuesday.

Besides China's commercial interests, defence ties and a mistrust of India, which shares its border with the two countries, are drawing together the two countries.

"China treats us as a friend, an ally, a partner and above all an equal - not how the Americans and others do," said Mushahid Hussain Sayed, chairman of the Pakistan parliament's defence committee.

Pakistan and China see themselves as "iron brothers" and trade between the two countries has grown to $10 billion last year from $4 billion in 2007, according to Pakistani data.

Part of China's maritime silk road project, linking Pakistan's Gwadar port with China's Xinjiang region would shorten the route for China's energy imports, bypassing the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia.

China may also use the port to station its own submarines so as to extend their range in the Indian Ocean.

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