ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan began his official visit to China on Thursday night when his plane touched down at the Beijing International Airport where he was given a red-carpet welcome by the Chinese authorities, his office confirmed in a Twitter post.
Senior Pakistani officials said earlier in the day the premier's visit to China was expected to bring economic gains for the country.
Khan is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics which will take place from Feb. 4 to Feb. 20 in the Chinese capital and venues near neighboring towns of Yanqing and Chongli. Some 2,900 athletes from over 90 countries are expected to attend the event.
Amid geopolitical tensions, the US, UK, Canada and Australia announced a diplomatic boycott of the event over China's human rights record. Their athletes will still participate in the games, but no government official will be present.
“Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI was accorded a red carpet welcome upon his arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport, Beijing,” his office in Islamabad announced in a social media message.
PM Khan has gone to China on a three-day visit that will include talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
Pakistan’s finance minister, Shaukat Tarin, said in a video message shared on social media, that the prime minister’s trip to China was “important not only for political but also economic reasons.”
"The prime minister will also ask them to help us in our agriculture transformation plan,” he added. “This is because Pakistan attaches special importance to agriculture. Our overall economic growth is spurred by agricultural growth.”
The Pakistani prime minister's adviser for commerce and investment, Abdul Razak Dawood, said in a separate video message that the visit to China will be a “very important one.”
"We will derive a lot of benefits which will also lead to a significant increase in our exports and we will import technology from there as well,” he added.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday several agreements would be concluded during the visit.
Beijing has pledged over $60 billion for infrastructure projects in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) established in 2013. The initiative is a central part of the Belt and Road Initiative, in which China’s aims to forge “Silk Road” land and sea ties to markets in the Middle East and Europe.