Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will fly to China on Thursday to attend the Winter Olympic Games’ opening ceremony and meet with China’s senior officials, including President Xi Jinping. The Winter Olympics are being held in Beijing despite a diplomatic boycott by the United States and its allies over human rights charges against Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang region.
According to the Foreign Office, Khan will be joined by a high-level group that includes members of the Cabinet and top government officials, who have been invited by the Chinese leadership. The visit, according to Pakistani officials, was largely intended to convey a message to China’s opponents that Pakistan stood with its “all-weather and time-tested friend.” However, even though the fact that the visit is not formally bilateral, Islamabad is using it as a chance to address sever critical bilateral matters, notably the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Meanwhile, despite the COVID-19 epidemic, Pakistan praised China for making painstaking preparations to host the Winter Olympic Games. Prime Minister Khan granted China a clean chit on human rights complaints against Uygur Muslims in the dangerous Xinjiang province, saying his country’s ambassador reported that the charges were false during a visit to the province.
During a previous interview with Chinese journalists in July 2021, Khan deflected criticism of Pakistan’s silence on allegations of rights abuses by China against Uygur Muslims. Khan, according to Pakistan daily Dawn, said that Pakistan had accepted Beijing’s version regarding the treatment of Uyghurs due to “our extreme proximity and relationship”.