Prime Minister Imran Khan met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, in his second official trip to China. The PM arrived in Beijing on four-day official visit at the invitation of the Chinese leadership.

The significance of this trip to China can be seen in that even with the tumultuous events in the country; the Prime Minister could not avoid it. Optimism surrounding this visit increased after the news of the Saudi Bailout package, with our government promising us that further good news is expected, hinting a good bailout package from China as well.

It is apparent that the government is anticipating a good deal from the Chinese. Minister for planning and focal person on the CPEC Khusro Bakhtiar has implied that Pakistan would not seek rescheduling of about $2.7bn Chinese loans due for repayment this year but expected a good economic package, including expansion of the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to the next level.

A lenient bailout package would certainly be a huge boost for economic planning, help Pakistan bridge current account deficit and build foreign exchange reserves.  Perhaps most importantly it would take the pressure off Pakistan from going to the IMF. However, there is much more to gain from this visit than just a loan. This is the time to address and negotiate on concerns of CPEC and its terms not reaping enough benefits for Pakistan. CPEC is set to enter the next phase and in order for the projects to be mutually beneficial for both countries, Pakistan needs to ensure technology transfer, relocation of industry into Pakistan, cash in on some percents of China’s imports, and provide protection of our local economy. Most importantly, Pakistan is looking into ensuring that employment opportunities increase during CPEC by investing in skill development, to tackle concerns that that CPEC would lead to loss of jobs due to Pakistan’s unskilled labour.

According to reports, Imran Khan told the Chinese President about Pakistan’s difficult economic condition. While this is certainly true, Pakistan is not in such a bad position to negotiate terms with China. China has suffered a setback recently, with Malaysia and Myanmar halting Chinese projects. It must be remembered that China also direly needs and relies on CPEC. Pakistan depending less on an IMF loan only works in China’s favour since the loan was bound to come with restrictions on CPEC projects.

It is hoped that the PM’s visit and the negotiations go well.  In these dark times, the nation could use good news.