Islamabad: Pakistan and China agreed to take their relationship to a higher level, advancing the strategic Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and affirmed that their partnership serves both the security and development of the two states as well as the region.
A joint statement was issued after talks between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Qureshi paid a two-day (August 201-21) visit to China to attend the second round of the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue in Hainan.
During the visit, the two sides agreed to “collectively take measures to safeguard their common interests and promote peace, prosperity, and development in the region”, the communiqué read. They also discussed the coronavirus pandemic, bilateral ties, regional and international issues. It was restated that the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership is beneficial to regional and international peace and stability.
Pakistan and China are iron brothers and “Pakistan remains China’s staunchest partner in the region”, the Chinese side highlighted. The warm and enthusiastic welcome by the Chinese foreign minister for Pakistan’s counterpart demonstrated that the Pakistan-China friendship is “higher than the Himalayas, deeper than oceans and stronger than steel”.
China firmly supports Pakistan in safeguarding its territorial integrity and sovereignty and “independently” choosing a development path based on its “national conditions, striving for a better external security environment and playing a more constructive role in international and regional affairs,” the official statement said. Meanwhile, Pakistan reaffirmed its support to China’s core interests and issues of major concern “such as those related to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong”.
Joint fight against COVID-19 pandemic
Pakistan and China have set an example for the international community to jointly fight the pandemic by working together since the COVID-19 outbreak with focus on rapid exchange of information and medical materials, the officials said. Both sides have also joined forces to develop a vaccine to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic. It was emphasized that “unity and cooperation are the most powerful weapon” against the disease.
The two friendly countries will continue to advance the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative, ensure timely completion of projects and prioritize economic and social development, job creation. The focus would be on boosting cooperation in Specialized Economic Zones, industrial relocation, science and technology, medical and health, human resources training, poverty alleviation, energy projects and agriculture to unleash the potential of CPEC and make it a hub of regional connectivity. The CPEC project has now entered a new phase of development, and “will continue to play an important role in supporting Pakistan” to achieve greater development, it was noted. The officials also welcomed the international community to join the CPEC initiative to achieve shared development.
Afghan peace process and regional disputes
While reaffirming their commitment to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, Pakistan and China urged for “an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive negotiated agreement for the future political settlement in Afghanistan” and hoped for early renewal of intra-Afghan talks for durable peace.
Both sides underlined that a peaceful, cooperative and prosperous South Asia was in the common interest of all parties. It was stressed that all regional disputes should be settled through dialogue particularly the Kashmir issue “should be resolved peacefully and properly through the UN resolutions and bilateral agreements” adding that “China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China was ready to work with Pakistan to jointly promote cooperation among regional countries. In a letter to President Arif Alvi, the Chinese premier said that “Political parties of China and Pakistan have carried out friendly consultations,” that consolidated political consensus between the two countries to vigorously promote the long-term development of CPEC and BRl.