PAKISTAN-China relations are deeply rooted, strong, time tested and ever growing. Pakistan established its relations with China in 1950 when it recognized the Peoples Republic of China and the relationship has come a long way. After China-India War of 1962 and amicable settlement of Pakistan-China border issue in 1963, mutual relations have been progressing well. The bilateral relations have developed in a comprehensive way and gradually the relationship has been upgraded to the level of strategic partnership. Some highlights of the mutual cooperation in the politico-military and economic fields indicate the depth and strength of Pakistan-China strategic partnership.
While Pakistan supports China on Tibet, Xinkiang and Taiwan issues, China supports Pakistan on Kashmir dispute with India. China also supports Pakistan on fighting the war on terror in the region. While Pakistan has been fighting the global war on terror as part of the international coalition in Afghanistan, to reinforce Pakistan’s position against pressures of the international coalition of conducting the drone strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) without prior information to Pakistan and regarding strategy of fighting the waron terror by Pakistan, China has been strongly supporting Pakistan by declaring its stance that Pakistan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty must be respected.
Currently, when India has created tension with Pakistan by falsely blaming it for supporting Uri attack in the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) by unknown attackers, while China supported Pakistan’s position on Kashmir issue, it gave a strong statement that it was standing with Pakistan under all circumstances and also offered for mediation between Pakistan and India to reduce tension. China has also been the main supplier of military equipment and weapons to Pakistan, including joint ventures for the production of heavy machinery and equipment, defence equipment, and weapons platforms, such as, Al-Khalid battle tank, construction of a Heavy Mechanical Complex, building JF-Thunder Aircraft for Pakistan Air Force and modern frigates for Pakistan Navy.
China has consistently provided economic assistance to Pakistan. It has already signed a free trade agreement with Pakistan. It has provided loans and technical assistance for construction of water dams, and nuclear reactors for the production of hydro and thermal electricity. China has also assisted Pakistan by constructing the Gawadar Seaport. In the wake of China’s spectacular economic development since 1979 and its current status as the world’s second largest economy and an emerging superpower, the hallmark of China’s economic cooperation with Pakistan has been the recently signed agreement of investing $46billion in Pakistan for the construction of the CPEC to connect China’ Kashgar city with Gawader Port of Pakistan. While CPEC will be beneficial for China, Pakistan and the region, it will largely help Pakistan in its economic development.
Pakistan-China’s strategic partnership will be useful to South Asian countries in many ways. Since last few years China has adopted the policy of extending its cooperation and providing the economic assistance to the neighbouring regions, including South Asia and Central Asia for their economic development and prosperity. In this context,in 2013,China’s leadership has taken a mega initiative of constructing the ‘One Belt, One Road’.The significance of OBOR is to promote regional and cross-continental connectivity between China and Eurasia. ‘One Road’ and ‘One Belt’ refer to China’s proposed land based ‘Silk Road, Economic Belt’ and seagoing ‘Maritime Silk Road’. Displaying full trust in Pak as a close ally, as part of OBOR, CPEC has been declared by China as the pilot project and it will be completed on priority basis.
Whereas the completion of the CPEC would enable South Asia to connect with each other and with China through Pakistan it will definitely enhance trade and investment related activities in all South Asian countries adding to their economic development and reduction inpoverty. Moreover, CPEC would help in developing China’s close relations with all SAARC countries and China will be able to contribute in a major way to resolve the interstate disputes through its mediation and this will bring stability in S Asia. Using CPEC, all S Asian countries will be able to have trade with China and Central Asia on a large scale.
Like South Asia, China is also heavily investing in Central Asian Republics (CARs) with a view to assisting them in their economic development. Using CPEC, while the CARs will be able to carry out trade with SAARC countries, these states will also reach the warm waters by using the CPEC and the Gwadar port and their trade with the outer world will also increase in volume. Thus, economic progress and prosperity coming to the CARs by use of the CPEC will help these states to end extremism and terrorism that will bring stability and well-being of the people in the region.
— The writer works for the Islamabad Policy Research Institute, a think-tank based in Islamabad.