PRESIDENT Asif Ali Zardari left for China on Tuesday on his first official visit abroad with a heavy agenda to not only carry forward the strategic partnership but also bolster economic relations between the two countries. "We have a lot of cultural ties, friendly ties, but that is not properly depicted by our economic relationship, Mr Zardari told Chinese news agency Xinhua while pledging to enhance cooperation in the energy, finance and agriculture sectors. The two countries will sign several memorandums of understanding pertaining to trade, counter-terrorism and industrial development, as well as banking and power sectors. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiecho on Monday, setting the tone for the upcoming talks between President Zardari and President Hu Jintao. The signing of the nuclear agreement between New Delhi and Washington triggered speculations that Islamabad and Beijing would also go for a similar deal, but it was not officially confirmed. Pakistan has however reportedly decided to purchase scanners, arms and other such equipment from China, required for combating terrorism. The government is already working on a plan to refurbish its counterinsurgency apparatus. Mr Zardari may also have to face some tough question from his hosts on the issue of recent kidnappings of Chinese engineers in Pakistan. Their safety and security will definitely figure at the top-level interaction. But the visit will hopefully generate a positive impact on further increasing cooperation between the two countries. It needs to be seen against the backdrop of the Chinese leadership's interest in enhancing investment in Pakistan. The government has to realize that it is time for Pakistan to pursue a look-East policy while reassuring the West that it would continue to honour its international obligation to fight terrorism without compromising its sovereignty or territorial integrity. Shifting the paradigm of our foreign policy is a must to counter the growing American influence in the region.