Companies from China’s violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang have signed deals with Pakistan worth about $2bn covering areas including infrastructure, solar power and logistics. The deals were signed during last week’s visit to Islamabad, Karachi and Gwadar by Xinjiang’s Communist Party chief Zhang Chunxian when he met Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, and again pressed Pakistan to weed out what China claims are Xianjiang militants from the Pashtun lands on the Pakistan-Afghan border.
The deals come in the wake of last year’s agreement between the two countries to set up the $46bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The Corridor will give a much-needed boost to Pakistan’s crumbling infrastructure and energy sector, while China will in return get a free trade zone in Pakistan’s Gwadar port and access to the Arabian Sea. New Pakistani roads will also open up routes for Chinese goods into Europe and the Middle East through landlocked Xinjiang.