BEIJING/ISLAMABAD: China places CPEC and Pakistan’s interest in the priority position of its foreign policy and neighbouring diplomacy, said the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday.
Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Spokesperson Geng Shuang said Pakistan and China had agreed to strengthen their ties in all fields in addition to accelerating the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“Beijing will continue its support to Islamabad and both countries have agreed to accelerate the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project,” said the spokesperson.
He said Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Pakistan was mainly aimed at renewing the traditional friendship, promoting mutually-beneficial cooperation in various areas and elevating the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership to a new high.
Geng mentioned that Wang Yi reached an important consensus with the Pakistani side on accelerating the construction of the CPEC and achievements made by both sides in promoting the plan are obvious to all.
“China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners. The relationship between the two sides is different from that of the parties and the regime changes,” Geng added. He said Pakistan successfully completed the election process and the new-elected government took office.
He emphasised that the Sino-Pakistan friendship was time-tested and rooted in the hearts of the two nations. “The developing relationship between China and Pakistan is not directed at third parties and will not be affected by their respective developments in relations with other countries,” he added.
“China will support the Pakistani side to continue to firmly fight against terrorism in accordance with its national interest," Geng remarked. He said during the visit, Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Pakistani President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and his counterpart Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad.
The two sides exchanged in-depth views on comprehensively deepening the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership and international and regional issues of common concern and reached consensus.
“China is willing to work with the newly elected Pakistani government to make China-Pakistan relations a model of good-neighbourhood and friendship, a pillar of regional peace and stability, and a benchmark for building the Belt and Road Initiatives.”
He also mentioned that the two sides had agreed to further deepen the strategic mutual trust, strengthen strategic cooperation, and more firmly support each other's core and major interests, and communicate and coordinate more closely on major issues of common concern, while economically, the two sides will focus on people's livelihood and strengthen development cooperation.
“China will encourage its aid to Pakistan in the areas of agriculture, education, healthcare, drinking water and other areas of people's livelihood so that more people can receive tangible benefits,” he commented.
He said the two sides will jointly promote the construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
At the same time, he said, the future development path, cooperation and direction of the corridor will be determined through consultation.
Focus will be on accelerating industrial cooperation and construction of people's livelihood projects, and gradually extending to the region, so that more Pakistani people can benefit from the corridor.
Geng said in terms of safety, the two sides decided to strengthen defence and security cooperation. “We will promote exchanges between the military and law enforcement agencies of the two countries and resolutely crack down on the terrorist forces like East Turkmenistan Movement,” he added.
The new Pakistani government has repeatedly stressed that it will continue to respect relations with China as the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. “China has also continued to place Pakistan in the priority position of its foreign policy and neighbouring diplomacy,” Geng mentioned.
Meanwhile, taking notice of a Financial Times report, the Chinese Embassy said such ill-intentioned reports based on distorted and misquoted information only demonstrate that the report contributor had total ignorance and neglect of the CPEC or China-Pakistan traditional partnership.
In a statement, the Chinese Embassy said, "We have taken notice of the report in Financial Times regarding remarks by the Honable Adviser Razak Dawood on the CPEC as well as the clarification by the Ministry of Commerce and Textile Pakistan."
"It is a firm consensus between China and Pakistan that CPEC is a mutually beneficial project and both the governments will carry it forward according to the needs of Pakistan and for the development of Pakistan. Such ill-intentioned reports based on distorted and misquoted information only demonstrate that the report contributor has total ignorance and neglect of the CPEC or China Pakistan traditional partnership".
In a related development, the Foreign Office of Pakistan on Monday said CPEC was a ‘national priority’ and Pakistan remained committed to its successful implementation.
“There was complete consensus on the future trajectory of CPEC between Pakistan and China. The two sides agreed to work together towards implementation of the ongoing projects and agreed to expand CPEC to new areas of cooperation including socio-economic development, poverty alleviation, anti-corruption, agricultural cooperation and industrial development as per the needs and priorities of the government of Pakistan,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.