Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan
Director: The Center for South Asia & International Studies (CSAIS) Islamabad Regional Expert: China, CPEC & BRI
Dust of time and bitterness of rapidly changing geopolitics and geostrategic compulsions could not affect Pak-China Iron Clad Friendship since 1951. Merchants of destruction and dealers of debris have been facing self-defeats however, caravans of mutual socio-economic development and sustainable friendship have been passing through all the hurdles and horrendous crimes and conspiracies against them.
May 21, 1951 was a defining moment in the history of Pakistan. It is the day when Pakistan established formal diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China. Over past seven decades, our bilateral ties have grown from strength to strength and reached a pinnacle that finds few parallels in the modern history of inter-state relations. As iron brothers, both have always stood by each other in the most trying times. Their relationships have become an “all-weather strategic cooperative partnership.”
Consequently, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) the flagship project of One Belt One Road Initiative (BRI) has further strengthened bilateral relations between two brotherly countries. Both countries stood firm against the false, fake and fictional propaganda of the US, West and some regional countries about the CPEC hidden agenda. In this connection, both countries have categorically dismissed all accusations of the West and termed it inadequate and inappropriate because CPEC has never been meant for any kind of hegemonic designs.
Unfortunate, series of terrorist attacks against the Chinese teachers, engineers, designers and planners working at various mega projects of the CPEC in the country have somehow raised doubts but thanks to visionary leadership of both the countries which showed solidarity and commitment to work together for the completion of CPEC project and to combat against terrorism.
Thus a joint mechanism of Pak-China security is the need of hour. In this context, the incumbent government of Pakistan has already taken all possible security measures to stop the flood of terrorist attacks in the country.
Most recently, in a renewed push by the incumbent government to deepen cooperation with Beijing which is deemed as pivotal for Pakistan given the current economic situation, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has visited China.
At the special invitation of State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the foreign minister has visited China from May 21-22. During his maiden visit to China, Bilawal held extensive consultations with State Councillor Yi.
According to official press releases and state media the two foreign ministers reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations, with a particular focus on stronger trade and economic cooperation between Pakistan and China.
Moreover, it seems that both countries used this visit as an opportunity to carry on with the traditional friendship, consolidate strategic mutual trust, and further deepen the all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership to build a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future. Despite western propaganda thus CPEC ongoing project will be completed as soon as possible. On April 27, the day Bilawal was sworn in he visited the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan to send condolences to the Chinese victims of the terror attack at the Confucius Institute in the University of Karachi in Pakistan.
He said that Pakistan strongly condemns terror attacks that target Chinese citizens and Pakistan’s cabinet has decided to enhance security for Chinese citizens, Chinese projects and institutions in Pakistan.
The friendship between China and Pakistan has a long history. China has helped Pakistan many times and contributed largely to Pakistan’s development. Pakistan would not allow any force to hurt the two countries’ all-weather friendship and cooperation, Bilawal stressed.
Furthermore, May 21, 2022 also marks the 71st anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan. Ever since Shahbaz Sharif was elected Pakistan’s new prime minister, he has highlighted the friendship between Pakistan and China, which was also echoed by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Two days after Sharif was sworn into office, he met with the charge d’affaires of the Chinese embassy in Pakistan.
Connected by geography, history, and Asian identity, the ancient linkages between Pakistan and China predate the establishment of formal ties. Since times immemorial the two countries support each other on issues of their core interests. Pakistan adheres to the one-China principle and supports China on issues such as Xinjiang, Hong Kong, South China Sea, Taiwan and Tibet. China has stood by Pakistan in supporting our key strategic, economic, and developmental priorities.
China has played an important role in supporting Pakistan’s just and principled position on the Jammu and Kashmir situation, underscoring that the dispute is an “objective fact established by the UN charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements between Pakistan and India.” Beijing has also underlined that, “any unilateral change to the status quo in the Kashmir region is illegal and invalid.” Pakistan has also firmly backed China’s position on the Boundary Question between China and India, thereby becoming a supporter for legitimate causes fostering regional peace and stability
Pakistan supports the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has become a pivot for connectivity and global growth. As the flagship project of BRI, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is set to become a high-quality demonstration project of the BRI and accelerate economic integration and regional connectivity. There is a complete consensus across the political spectrum in Pakistan on CPEC’s indispensability for our national development.
After the successful conclusion of its first phase, the transformational CPEC initiative has entered its second phase with vigorous focus on industrialization, agriculture and socio-economic development. We hope that the Special Economic Zones (SEZs), being developed under CPEC, will rejuvenate Pakistan’s process of industrialization and further spur economic development. We encourage Chinese businessmen to invest in SEZs.
At the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, Pakistan immediately dispatched essential medical supplies to China to support its fight against COVID-19. The President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi, traveled to Beijing in March 2020 to express solidarity with the people and the government of China.
The 2021 marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan. In this regard, more than 100 events were held, which injected new energy into both countries relations.
The two countries and their armed forces have maintained the momentum of close high-level exchanges, strengthened strategic communication and jointly led the direction of China-Pakistan relations. JF-17 Thunder and JC-10 Fighter Jets are the prime example of Pak-China iron clad friendship which is always ready to deter any external aggression.
Additionally, President Xi Jinping’s concepts of shared prosperity, Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative have further accelerated the pace of CPEC and BRI in the country and around the globe. The CPEC has been expanded in an all-round way, entering a new stage of enrichment and expansion.
Both countries have completed 46 of the 70 early harvest projects with a total investment of 25.4 billion US dollar. CPEC improved the Pakistan’s infrastructure, which is playing a major role in the economic development of the country. New breakthroughs keep flourishing in industrial cooperation.
The East Bay Expressway of Gwadar Port has been completed and will open for traffic soon. This year, China donated another 3,000 sets of solar panel to Gwadar people, which brings the total number of donation to 7,000 sets.
The construction of a desalination plant aided by China will start soon in Gwadar.
Two units of the Karot Hydropower project have started to provide stable clean power to Pakistan’s power grid since May. After its full operation, its four units will provide electricity for 5 million people.
Hopefully, under the strategic guidance of the leaders of the two countries, Pak-Sino relations have continued to progress further and have always maintained robust vigour despite the rapidly changing chessboard of power politics in the region and beyond.
To conclude, 71 years of Pak-China friendship is a journey of mutual respect, love, sharing & caring, protection, economic cooperation, massive industrialization, energy revolution, air defence, sea, & undersea cooperation, and highlight of people to people diplomacy. It has been balancing act against regional hegemony. It has been instrumental for conflict resolution which has been one of the best acts of humanity in times of crisis. Long Live Pak-China friendship.