Pakistan Premier Raja Pervez Ashraf's visit here, China tacitly confirmed reports that it was taking over the strategic Gwadar deep water port in Balochistan, which it may convert into an oil pipeline hub to augment its energy supplies from the Gulf.
Asked about Pakistan Shipping Minister Babar Khan Ghauri's remarks that China may take over the port operations with USD 10 billion investment following the pullout of Singapore Port Authority (SPA), Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said both countries are engaged in cooperation to build infrastructure projects.
"China and Pakistan are neighbours of traditional friendship. Over the years, China and Pakistan have engaged in wide-ranging cooperation in all fields including infrastructure construction with a view to helping Pakistan improve people's well-being and promote social and economic development," Hong said in a written response to a query from PTI.
"Such cooperation is also beneficial to regional stability and development," he said, without directly referring to Babar's comments. He also did not say whether the issue would be discussed during Ashraf's visit to attend the World Economic Forum 2012, also known as Summer Davos, starting from Sept 11 at Tianjin city.
The forum would be inaugurated by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who is expected to hold talks with Ashraf on its sidelines. Pakistani officials have long been pushing for China's takeover of the port to make it an oil pipeline hub for China connecting with the Karakoram Highway.