Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will travel to China on Thursday to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games and meet China's top leadership, including President Xi Jinping.
Beijing is hosting the Winter Olympics amidst a diplomatic boycott by the US and allies over human rights allegations against Uygur Muslims in the Xinjiang province.
Khan, who has been invited by the Chinese leadership, will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including members of the Cabinet and senior government officials, according to Foreign Office.
During his visit from February 3 to 6, Prime Minister Khan will hold bilateral meetings with President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang and the two sides would review the entire gamut of bilateral relations, with a particular focus on stronger trade and economic cooperation including CPEC, the FO said.
The two sides will also have a wide-ranging exchange of views on major regional and international issues. “A number of MoUs and agreements would be concluded during the visit,” it said.
While in Beijing, Prime Minister Khan would also meet prominent business leaders of China and representatives of leading Chinese think-tanks, academia and the media.
The visit would mark the culmination of celebrations commemorating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China, with more than 140 events organized to showcase the resilience of the All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and the unfolding international situation.
“It (visit) would thus renew the bilateral commitment to taking the iron-clad partnership between Pakistan and China to new heights and add impetus to cooperation across multiple domains,” according to FO.
The FO also said that the Olympic Games would foster mutual understanding, inclusivity and friendship among the peoples of the world, while Beijing would become the first city to host both summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games.
Pakistan also appreciated China for meticulous arrangements to hold the Winter Olympic Games despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahead of his visit to China, Prime Minister Khan gave a clean chit to China over human rights allegations against Uygur Muslims in the volatile Xinjiang province, saying his country's envoy after a visit to the province reported that charges were not true.
“There is a lot of criticism of the treatment of Uygurs by China in the West. But our Ambassador went there (and) he sent information that it is not actually true on the ground,” Khan told Chinese journalists in an interview in Islamabad on Saturday ahead of his visit to Beijing.
Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, expressed his eagerness to attend the Winter Olympics, saying it would be his first time doing so and it was very "admirable" for China to go forward with the event when the pandemic had adversely affected many sporting events across the world.
During a previous interview with Chinese journalists in July 2021, Khan deflected criticism of Pakistan's silence on allegations of rights abuses by China against Uygur Muslims.
Khan, according to Pakistan daily Dawn, said that Pakistan had accepted Beijing's version regarding the treatment of Uyghurs due to "our extreme proximity and relationship".
China currently has launched a diplomatic offensive to mobilise world leaders to attend February 4 opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics as the US, European Union and several western countries announced a boycott of the event by their diplomats to highlight their allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang, including incarceration of over a million Uygur Muslim men and women in camps.
As per the list released by China, 32 world leaders, including Khan, Russian President Vladimir Putin besides UN Secretary-General António Guterres will attend the ceremony.