The second round of Pakistan’s strategic talks with China commenced as Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi made his way to the state capital, Beijing. Following the precedent set previously, pertinent issues are expected to be discussed with each of the two stakeholders reaffirming their support for one another.

The main focus of the dialogue is to promote bilateral cooperation regarding the initiation of the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The only project approved thus far, for this phase, has been the ML-1, a 1872km railway. However, through this sit-down, both foreign ministers will be able to decide on how to proceed further given the barriers created by the pandemic, and the subsequent economic stagnation—perhaps one of the most significant matters to discuss. Amongst other issues for us, the accumulation of trillions of rupees worth of debt, the dependence on a surplus of expensive imports and rising inflation have seriously devalued the little economic progress the country has been making. What steps can be taken to improve our standing should be on the agenda of things to talk about.

Due to the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project, regional tensions must also be addressed because they stand to affect the success of this initiative. Pakistan and China’s deteriorating ties with India have had an immense effect on the country. Trade ties were suspended, hostilities increased, the siege in Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir intensified and attempted breaches of sovereignty, through surveillance, cyberattacks, spy planes and the like, have been normal occurrences from the Indian side. If any sort of positive growth is to be achieved, mechanisms need to be created that will reduce the effect of these strains, if not completely eradicate them.

There is no doubt that a comprehensive discussion will produce solutions to various problems that both the countries face, independently and as one unit. The main aim is to strengthen coordination and foster mutual trust, for which each grievance will be addressed and resolved.