By Filippo Boni
The long-awaited visit has finally taken place. Xi Jinping’s first official visit abroad this year was to Islamabad, previously postponed due to the September 2014 dharna (sit-in) organised by Imran Khan’s PTI. “I feel as if I am going to visit the home of my brother” said Xi Jinping ahead of his trip to Pakistan in an editorial published in the Daily Times, a tradition that the Chinese President inaugurated last fall at the dawn of his South Asian tour to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and India.
The arrival saw a red carpet welcome at the airport, and a reminder of the Pakistan and China’s long-standing joint defence cooperation with four JF 17 Fighters accompanying Xi’s plane as it entered Pakistani airspace. While reiterating the intangible dimension of Pakistan-Chinas’ “all-weather” narrative, the more tangible, substantive part of his trip was yet to come.