Saturday May 18, 2024

Pakistan, China agree to firm up strategic ties

Both sides reaffirmed their strong support for each other’s core interests and major concerns

By Mariana Baabar
May 23, 2022
Pakistan, China agree to firm up strategic ties

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China Sunday agreed that amidst profound regional and international changes, the importance of China-Pakistan strategic relations has assumed even greater significance.

“As All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partners, China and Pakistan share ironclad mutual trust and friendship, which is a source of peace, stability, and prosperity for the region and beyond,” said a 15-point joint statement issued at the conclusion of the maiden visit of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to China, on special invitation of his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. Both the foreign ministers met in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.

The visit coincided with the 71st anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan.

During wide-ranging talks with State Councilor Wang Yi, the foreign minister said he discussed enhanced economic engagement, trade, investments, industrialisation and CPEC cooperation and issues facing students, adding that both sides were committed to elevating the multi-faceted partnership to greater heights.

Both sides reaffirmed their strong support for each other’s core interests and major concerns, and commitment to deepening strategic communication including at the highest political level and practical cooperation, and building an even stronger China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.

China before the arrival of the foreign minister said it hoped to use Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s visit as an opportunity to carry on with the traditional friendship with Pakistan, consolidate strategic mutual trust, and further deepen the all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to multilateralism for peace, stability, and development in the region and beyond. “China is my second home, and we have a three generation relationship with the people of China and the government of China. I look forward to make many more firsts with the people of China,” Bilawal tweeted in between meetings.

Both sides reiterated that a peaceful and prosperous South Asia is in the common interest of all parties. Given the challenges faced by the peoples of the region, due to global pandemic, soaring commodity prices, climate change and poverty, it is critical to resolve all outstanding disputes to promote regional cooperation and advance the goals of lasting peace, stability and shared prosperity.

Great importance is being given to the Pak-China joint statement in which Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari briefed the Chinese side about the latest developments in occupied Jammu & Kashmir. The two sides underlined the importance of the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute based on the UN charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.

During the joint press talk, Bilawal once again raised the issue of Kashmir pointing out the ever deteriorating human rights situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K).

“India is trying to change Muslim majority of the state by allowing non-natives to settle,” he said and thanked China for its consistent support to Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir dispute.

While both sides termed terrorism the common enemy of humanity, China appreciated Pakistan’s commitment to the safety and security of Chinese nationals.

“Pakistan and China will further enhance counter-terrorism and security cooperation. They once again condemned the Karachi University Confucius Institute terrorist attack. Pakistan reiterated that efforts will be made to speed up investigation, hunt down the culprits, and bring them to justice,” said the joint statement.

In this connection, Pakistan briefed the Chinese side on its efforts to ensure the safety of all Chinese nationals, projects, and institutions in the country. The two sides called on the regional countries and the international community to form synergy and fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The two sides expressed their determination not to allow anyone to damage China-Pakistan iron brotherhood.

As defence cooperation continues to grow, both sides expressed satisfaction at the growing momentum of bilateral defence cooperation and exchanges. They underlined that China-Pakistan defence cooperation was in fact a factor of peace and stability in the region.

There was good news for Pakistani students wishing to return to China to continue their studies as Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari thanked State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi for the safe and secure return of Pakistani students in a phased manner to China.

“The two sides also decided to resume direct flights between the two countries carried out by Pakistan airlines at the earliest and subsequently increase directs flights based on the evolving pandemic situation,” said the joint statement.

The two sides noted with satisfaction the steady growth of economic cooperation between China and Pakistan. In this context, they agreed that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has effectively improved Pakistan’s infrastructure and boosted its socio-economic development.

Both sides expressed the firm resolve to synergising development strategies, pushing forward all CPEC projects in a safe, smooth, and high-quality manner, promoting cooperation in areas such as economy and trade, investment, industry, agriculture, health, and science and technology, contributing to the peoples’ well-being and delivering greater benefits to local communities.

Noting with satisfaction the record bilateral trade achieved last year, the two sides agreed to work together to make optimum use of phase-II of CPFTA and work together to diversify their trade ties with deepening cooperation in export-oriented sectors in Pakistan and integrating value chains of the two countries. Both sides also agreed on stronger collaboration in the services sector and skill development in the areas of tourism, education, financial and information technology sectors.

In the face of multiple traditional and non-traditional global challenges, the two sides agreed on the need for international cooperation and solidarity. They noted that, based on the principles of win-win cooperation and shared benefits, Belt and Road cooperation has become an open and inclusive platform for international cooperation and is widely welcomed as a global public good.

The China-proposed Global Development Initiative (GDI) and Global Security Initiative (GSI) are new initiatives to respond to the pressing challenges facing the humanity. Both countries stand ready to work with other countries to focus on the development agenda, tackle security challenges, implement the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind. The two sides discussed the Ukraine situation, noting the necessity of being alert to the negative spillovers of the Ukraine crisis, in particular preventing its impact on developing countries, and called on relevant parties involved in the conflict to resolve differences and disputes through diplomacy and dialogue.

They also reaffirmed the firm commitment to upholding the UN-centered international system, the international order based on international law, and the basic norms governing international relations underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN charter, practicing true multilateralism, and promoting democracy and rule of law in international relations.

Afghanistan was also part of the talks and they discussed practical cooperation with Afghanistan and provide all possible support for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan.

The two sides also reiterated their readiness to extend CPEC to Afghanistan in consultation with the Afghan interim government and to the mutual benefit of all parties. They also agreed that peace and stability in Afghanistan was vital for regional development and prosperity. The two sides called upon the Afghan interim government to develop a broad-based and inclusive political structure, adopt moderate and sound internal and external policies, and protect the rights of women and children and ensure that the Afghan soil is not used against any of its neighbours.

Both sides called on the international community to help avert humanitarian crisis and earnestly honour the pledges on Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction and future development. Both sides support the continued contribution of the mechanism of coordination and cooperation among Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries and expressed readiness to work with all parties.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office announced that at the invitation of president of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will attend the Forum’s annual meeting from May 23-26 in Davos, Switzerland. The foreign minister will be accompanied by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar. This year the Forum is being organised under the theme, “history at a turning point: Government policies and business strategies”. Both the foreign minister and the minister of state will participate in a number

of WEF events on contemporary global and regional issues.