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On the occasion of the 71st anniversary of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China both the nations deserve congratulations. These two brotherly countries have stood by each other at all times. In particular China has not only been heavily involved in Pakistan’s reconstruction projects but also its engineers and workers have sacrificed their lives, for that act of bravery the Pakistani nation is grateful to the peoples of China.

The ideal friendship between China and Pakistan is a threat to their enemies. These forces keep trying to weaken the relations between Pakistan and China by that way but which is not possible because China and Pakistan have proved in every age of difficulty that their friendship is as strong as the China Wall. Recently, Prime Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif telephoned his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang. China also expressed its deep regret over the attack on the Confucius Center in Karachi and vowed that the friendship would be further strengthened in the future.

In a phone call on May 16, Premier Li said that China and Pakistan are friendly neighbors and steel friends. China always prioritizes its relations with Pakistan in its diplomacy with neighboring countries.

According to Prime Minister Li, China is ready to strengthen strategic ties with Pakistan, promote cooperation on major projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and strengthen bilateral staff exchanges to prevent the Corona epidemic. Prime Minister Li pointed out that the recent attack on Chinese nationals in Karachi has shocked and angered the Chinese people and strongly condemned this terrorist attack.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, too, expressed deep sorrow over the deaths and injuries of Chinese nationals in the Karachi terrorist attack and said that he would strengthen security measures for all Chinese institutions and citizens in Pakistan.

It is true that the friendship between China and Pakistan is not such that a few incidents can weaken it because it has a history of its own.

Bilateral relations have grown from the initial Chinese policy of neutrality to a partnership with Pakistan. Pakistan-China diplomatic relations were established in 1950, border issues were resolved in 1963, military aid began in 1966, a strategic alliance was formed in 1972, and economic cooperation began in 1979. China has become the third largest supplier of arms to Pakistan and the third largest trading partner.

Maintaining close ties with China is a central part of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Pakistan has played a key role in bridging the communication gap between the People’s Republic of China and the West by facilitating the historic visit of US President Richard Nixon to China in 1972. Relations between Pakistan and China have been described as higher than mountains, deeper than seas, stronger than steel, dearer than the light of eyes, sweeter than honey.

Strong military ties were also aimed primarily at countering regional Indian and American influence. In recent years, the relationship has been strengthened by ongoing military plans and agreements between Pakistan and China. Since 1962, China has been a reliable source of military equipment for the Pakistani military. The training aircraft includes tailor-made training aircraft for Pakistan Air force. China has designed state-of-the-art tailor-made weapons for Pakistan, making it a strong military power in the South Asian region.

China is the largest investor in Pakistan’s Gwadar Deep Sea Port. China has recently pledged about 43 billion dollars in investment.

In 2008, Pakistan purchased military equipment from China for better quality of defense weapons and forces to counter the relentless onslaught of foreign militants. In the past, China played a key role in developing Pakistan’s nuclear infrastructure.

China has also provided technical and material support for the completion of the Chashma nuclear power complex and plutonium reprocessing facility, which was built in the mid-1990s.

On January 26, 2015, at the end of the then Pakistan army chief Raheel Sharif’s two-day visit to Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described Pakistan as China’s “irreplaceable, all-weather friend.” Raheel Sharif also met with Yu Zhengsheng, Meng Jianzhu and Xu Qiliang.

On April 19, 2015, China concluded the sale of eight conventional submarines worth 5 billion, the largest arms sales by China in its history. The two countries are cooperating in counter-terrorism. China, Pakistan and Afghanistan have cooperated to enhance regional stability. Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that China wants to use Xinjiang as a base for economic development in the region.

Pakistan has been one of China’s major trading partners. Bilateral trade volume exceeded US 20 billion for the first time in calendar year 2017, according to China Customs. In 2017, China’s exports to Pakistan increased by 5.9% to 18.25 billion. Economic cooperation between Pakistan and China has recently increased and a free trade agreement has been signed.

Economic relations between the two countries continue to dominate by military and technical transactions and China has promised to increase its investment in Pakistan’s economy and infrastructure. On April 22, 2015, China released its first foreign investment plan under the Belt and Road Initiative for the development of a hydropower station near Jhelum, according to China Daily. When it comes to economic cooperation, the mother of all these projects is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the biggest project of the century and the major project of which is the Gwadar Port.

CPEC will connect Pakistan with China and Central Asian countries through the highway connecting Kashgar to Khanjarab and Gwadar. The port of Gwadar in southern Pakistan will serve as a trade nerve hub for China. Shanghai is the only commercial port in the country that is more than 16,000 kilometers away. The voyage takes two to three months during which time ships are exposed to pirates, bad weather, political rivals and other threats. Instead using the Gwadar port will reduce the distance and potentially cost.

The plan seeks to increase market presence in Chinese businesses. It would not be an overstatement to say that the future of China and Pakistan is linked to the CPEC and Belt and Road Initiative project. The CPEC will raise the flag of success all over the world and the economic condition of the people of Pakistan will also be improve with the proud China with zero poverty.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

Syed Ali Nawaz Gilani

The writer is Secretary-General Pakistan China Friendship Association Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province-Pakistan & Senior Media Consultant email [email protected]

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