Pakistan's president visits China Thursday to help bolster relations with its long-time ally. China is expected to pledge economic aid to Islamabad, as well as encourage continued assistance from Pakistan's newest friend - the United States.
China says that during his visit, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf will discuss such issues as the war in Afghanistan and economic cooperation.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said at a news conference Wednesday that Mr. Musharraf's visit will contribute to the good relationship between China and Pakistan.
Beijing has given Islamabad more than $1 million in aid in recent months, and observers say China will likely pledge more help during Mr. Musharraf's five-day visit.
Zhu Feng, a security expert from Beijing University's School of International Studies, says that since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Pakistan's strategic alliances have changed rapidly. Most notably, Islamabad has developed closer ties with Washington. He says Islamabad's cooperation in the U.S. led war in Afghanistan should lead to greater prosperity in Pakistan, which China would welcome.
Wednesday, Chinese diplomats arrived in Afghanistan to re-open the country's embassy there. Sectarian fighting forced China to close the embassy in 1993.
Mr. Zhu says China also is urging the United States and other countries to continue helping Pakistan with its struggling economy, to maintain its stability. He also says conflicts between Pakistan and India place great pressure on Beijing's southwestern border areas, which have large Muslim populations.
Beijing and Pakistan have been staunch allies for Decades. China sees Islamabad as a counterbalance to India. China and India fought a brief war in 1962.