President Xi arrives in Islamabad for state visit

President Xi arrives in Islamabad for state visit

A fleet of JF-17 Thunder fighter jets escorts President Xi Jinping‘s plane after it enters Pakistan’s airspace. [Photo by Wu Jiao/]

ISLAMABAD – President Xi Jinping arrived in Islamabad Monday for his first state visit to Pakistan, a South Asian neighbor that Beijing has long described as an “iron friend.”

Pakistan is the first stop of Xi’s first overseas trip this year. Eight Pakistani Air Force JF-17 Thunder fighters were dispatched to escort Xi’s plane when it entered Pakistani air space.

During the two-day visit, Xi will meet with Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other leaders, as well as people from various sectors, for in-depth exchanges of views on bilateral relations and issues of shared interests.

The visit is expected to focus on strengthening bilateral ties and advancing the construction of theChina-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a planned network of roads, railways and energy projects linkingPakistan’s deepwater Gwadar Port with China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The two sides are scheduled to hammer out a package of deals in such fields as energy, infrastructure, trade and economic cooperation.

China has become Pakistan’s largest trading partner. Official statistics show that two-way trade exceeded $16 billion last year, marking an annual growth of 12.57 percent.