The Chinese delegation is all set to travel to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) Gilgit-Baltistan region next week to explore the options for buying and importing cherries, Commercial Counselor, Pakistan Embassy, Beijing, Ghulam Qadir said, reported The Nation. 15 members of the delegation from China, basically Chinese buyers hailing from Xinjiang, Zhejiang and Shandong provinces as well as the Weifang area will arrive in the region on May 15, Qadir told APP.

They will meet local farmers, and relevant officials and visit cherry orchards and inspect the quality of the exotic fruit, he added. Pakistan and China signed a cooperation protocol during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Beijing in November last year. Under the protocol, China will import cherries from Pakistan and help the local grower enhance production.

Currently, China imports the bulk of its cherries from South American countries to meet growing demand. However, the transportation cost and time is a major predicament, reported The Nation. Qadir also said the annual demand of the Chinese market is around 350,000 metric tons but Gilgit-Baltistan produces around 5,000 metric tons of cherry per season. Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang is in Pakistan for Pakistan-China Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue. During the dialogue, the Chinese foreign minister told Pakistan to overcome political differences to pave the way for economic progress, Voice of America (VOA) news reported. “We sincerely hope the political forces in Pakistan will build consensus, uphold stability and more effectively address domestic and external challenges so it can focus on growing the economy,” Qin said, addressing a press briefing alongside his Pakistani counterpart, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Pakistan is facing intense political turmoil since former prime minister Imran Khan was ousted a year ago in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence. A lack of consensus between Khan’s party and the 13-party ruling alliance led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif regarding the election schedule has plunged the country into a political and constitutional crisis. The country also is mired in a crippling financial crisis. To help Pakistan revive a stalled bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and avoid default, China has provided relief by rolling over debt and parking funds there to boost dangerously low foreign exchange reserves.