ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan and China signed nearly two dozen private-sector deals worth billions Saturday, the second day of a rare visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to this impoverished, conflict-ridden ally.
Including government deals signed Friday, the two sides have agreed to 35 pacts expected to bring as much as $30 billion of investment to Pakistan over five years, Islamabad said.
China is Pakistan's closest friend in Asia, giving Islamabad military aid and technical assistance, including nuclear technology. Crucially, most Pakistanis view China as an ally that, unlike Washington, doesn't make demands for its assistance.
But Beijing is hardly left empty-handed from its ties with Pakistan, which serves as a close, cheap source of natural resources to fuel its growing economy.
Wen wraps up his trip, the first by a Chinese premier in five years, on Sunday with a speech to the Pakistani parliament.
The two countries hailed their ties during a business leaders' summit, during which many of the deals were signed.
They agreed to widen the Karakoram Highway to enhance trade and communications, the Pakistani government said. China also pledged additional support in the energy sector, where Pakistan faces major shortages. In addition, China has agreed to a $229 million donation to help Pakistan rebuild after this year's devastating floods.
Pakistan is desperate for foreign investment to help create jobs for its 175 million people. While its bilateral trade with China is up from $1 billion in 2000 to about $7 billion now, much of the new trade consists of cheap Chinese imports into Pakistan, officials said. Islamabad hopes to do more to balance that.