PAULO Coelho de Souza, Brazilian lyricist and an eminent literary figure and winner of several international awards describing friendship said” Friendship is not about whom you know the longest. It is about who came and never left”. What he said is quintessential of the friendship between Pakistan and China which is far beyond and above the realm of normal diplomatic relations between two states. Notwithstanding the fact that Pakistan was a US ally, the development of relations with China has been the corner stone of its foreign policy. Pakistan has been supporting China on all issues of importance to the latter, especially those related to the question of China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet and other sensitive matters such as human rights. The Chinese leaders do appreciate Pakistan’s steadfast and unqualified support on issues of concern to her.
China has played a significant role in the economic progress of Pakistan. The construction of KKH Highway, Heavy Mechanical Complex at Taxila, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and Chashma Nuclear Plants are the monuments of the ever-spiking relationship. In the backdrop of US-India deal for transfer of civilian nuclear technology which Pakistan regarded as discriminatory act, China again exhibited the strength of the friendship between the two countries by agreeing to help Pakistan in building Chashma IV and V. It has also been extending support to Pakistan regarding its stance for criteria based admittance of new members to the prestigious Nuclear Suppliers Group.
Pakistan and China also have very strong defence ties. It is pertinent to point out that in early March 2017 Chinese-built Low to Medium altitude Air Defence System was inducted into the air defence system of the Pakistan Army that would considerably enhance its response capability to the current and emerging threats as the Chinese Mobile Air Defence system is capable of tracking and destroying variety of aerial targets at longer ranges flying at low and medium altitudes. The co-production of JF-17 Thunder aircraft at PAC is yet another milestone in defence relations between the two countries.
Pakistan Army Chief General Bajwa visited China in March and had very productive meetings with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi who expressed complete understanding of the challenges being faced by Pakistan, its geo-political relevance and contributions towards regional peace and stability and assured full spectrum support for Pakistan in grappling with those challenges. General Bajwa also called on General Fang Fengui, Chief of the Joint Staff Department under the Central Military Commission, Chinese Executive Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission General Fang Changlong and commander of the Peoples Liberation Army, General Li Zhuocheng with whom he discussed issues pertaining to defence cooperation, regional security and economy.
Global Times a tabloid associated with People’s Daily, a mouthpiece of Communist party of China reported that China planned to scale up its defence cooperation with Pakistan, including ballistic and cruise missiles besides joint mass production of multi-role combat aircraft, though the spokesman of the Chinese foreign ministry evaded a direct answer to the media question on the subject and only thought it suffice to say ‘Beijing stands for strategic balance in South Asia’. CPEC which is a vital component of Chinese initiative of ‘ One Belt, One Road’ with a transformational potential, has bound the two countries in an eternal partnership for shared economic prosperity in the region and beyond, in which Pakistan would probably be the biggest beneficiary.
The Chinese ambassador to Pakistan H.E Sun Weidong speaking at a reception held by the Chinese Embassy on the 68th anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China put into nut shell the new Chinese vision and relations with Pakistan in these words “We believe that there should be a global partnership with dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliance. We are committed to promoting the “Belt and Road” Initiative. We call on building a new type of international relations, featured by win-win cooperation. These claims have gained more and more recognition and support among the international community. We are also ready to make joint efforts with all the countries to build the community of shared prosperity for mankind.”
“China always puts the China-Pakistan relationship as the priority of its foreign policy. Fighting against terrorism is a strategic decision of Pakistan. The great efforts and national sacrifices made by Pakistan for the cause of international counter-terrorism should be fully understood and acknowledged by the international community. China firmly supports Pakistan to carry out its counter-terrorism strategy based on its own national conditions. We will, as always, support Pakistan’s efforts in safeguarding its national sovereignty and security”. “The Chinese people are proud of having Pakistan as our iron brother. Looking ahead, China will always stand with Pakistan to go through thick and thin, and make new progress side by side.”
The discourse of the Chinese ambassador should be enough to silence those who have been expressing skepticism about the misconceived dilution of relations between the two countries in the backdrop of BRICS Declaration and Chinese overtures of friendship towards India. They probably need to read the National Action Plan minutely. The new Chinese vision is about partnership and ending confrontation. That is also what Pakistan wants and besides China, even Pakistan has invited India to join CPEC. So what is so worrying about warming up of relations between India and China? At some distance date Chinese cordial relations with Pakistan and India could perhaps become instrumental to helping the two hostile nations to resolve their differences like Pakistan did in case of China and US.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.