PEKING (Reuters) – China will provide economic aid to Pakistan, but more talks will be held to fix the details, a senior Chinese diplomat said after Pakistan's new PM Imran Khan met Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on Saturday.
Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves have fallen 42 percent since the beginning of the year and now stand at around $ 8 billion or less than two months of import protection.
Pakistan received a $ 6 billion bailout from Saudi Arabia last month. However, the authorities say it is not enough, and the country is still planning a rescue by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to avert a balance of payments crisis.
It would be Pakistan's 13th rescue package from the multilateral lender since the late 1980s.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said in an interview with reporters in Beijing's large People's Hall after Khan's talks with Li that his country would help.
"During the visit, both sides basically made it clear that the Chinese government will provide Pakistan with the necessary economic support and assistance in dealing with the current economic difficulties," Kong said.
"With regard to specific measures, the competent authorities of the two sides will hold in-depth discussions," he added, without giving details.
Khan told Chinese President Xi Jinping the day before that he had inherited "a very difficult economic situation" at home.
Although China is Pakistan's largest ally, Khan's newly elected government has attempted to rethink the two countries' signature project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), for $ 60 billion, setting Beijing as the flagship infrastructure program in its program huge belt and its road recruits initiative.
Pakistan has sought to change the CPEC to focus projects on social development rather than infrastructure.
Kong said that the number of CPEC projects will not change.
"There is no change at all, and if that were the case, it would just increase the number of projects, not decrease them," he added.
However, the scale of the project would increase and make a difference to people's livelihoods, Kong said, without elaborating on it.
After visiting Beijing, Khan will be an important speaker at an important import fair in Shanghai. An event that China hopes will show the world that the country welcomes foreign companies and their products.
(Report by Ben Blanchard, edited by Jacqueline Wong)