Achievements, challenges of Sino-Pak ties in new era
The initial results of CPEC and the spirit of China-Pakistan Joint fight against the epidemic highlighted the friendly relations between China and Pakistan.
What’s more, this turns out that China-Pakistan fate community building is not an idealistic vision, nor a false promise of China’s rise.
Rather, it is an embodiment of China’s consistent worldview and values. The construction of CPEC and the building of a China-Pakistan community with a shared future are not only of great significance to Sino-Pakistan friendly relations, but also of great theoretical and practical value for China to cope with the profound changes unseen in a century, and to make China’s voice heard and put forward China’s proposals of global governance.
However, although the traditional friendship of China and Pakistan has reached a new height, new breakthroughs have been made in bilateral economic, trade and people-to-people exchanges, Sino-Pakistan relations still face many new challenges under the background of undergoing profound changes unseen in a century and the ongoing impact of COVID-19 in many countries around the world.
The COVID-19 epidemic has seriously affected the economic and trade relations as well as people-to-people and cultural exchanges and cooperation between China and Pakistan.
In 2020, the total bilateral trade between China and Pakistan dropped by 2.7% compared to the formal year.
Despite CEPC had achieved in the first phase of construction and will march forward at full speed, operations face serious disruptions and delays from the pandemic are profound and inevitable. We Chinese often say that a friend in need is a friend indeed.
Covid-19 pandemic had tested so many friends and aligns relations in international community, compared to many countries operate on their own, the friendship of Sino-Pakistan is testified an iron one again.
However, in the fights of this unexpected and ongoing pandemic, how to advance high-quality CPEC cooperation, how to eliminate the impact of the epidemic on our two countries’ trade and people-to-people exchanges are still big challenges.
South Asia is at high risk from the serious ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in India, which could devastate the region’s thriving and security potential.
Although the number of new infections in India had dropped in recently, the prospects for the war against this pandemic are still tough and uncertain in the region.
Every country and every government faces huge pressure of maintaining economic growth and social stability in this seemed endless pandemic.
The existing social contradictions are likely to be intensified and domestic pressures are likely to degenerate into regional tensions.
How to avoid the impact of the spread of the epidemic in the Indian subcontinent on CPEC and our two countries’ effectiveness in fighting the epidemic is a big challenge.
As the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan, future instability in the country is likely to trigger a new round of geopolitical competition in the region.
Peace in Afghanistan seems a forlorn hope, intra-Afghan discussions remain at a standstill. The Afghan government’s destiny is still pending.
Considering recently fierce attacks launched by Taliban, the Afghanistan situation is pessimistic. What’s more, Afghanistan is famous for “great game” to regional countries and global powers.
American’s irresponsible withdrawal creating a security black hole in Afghanistan, the neighbouring and regional countries are inevitably confronted with severe external situations from this.
How should the China-Pakistan strategic partnership play its role on the Afghan issues and the regional peace is a big challenge.
Both China and Pakistan face increasing hostility and strategic pressure from the United States.
The vicious attacks on CPEC and deliberate drive a wedge between China and Pakistan have risen significantly.
US has been constantly demonizing CPCE and the BRI as a serious threat.G-7 countries recently have decided to inaugurate an infrastructure financing mechanism for low- to middle-income countries.
Pakistan would face further pressures from the United States in financial and diplomacy areas.
The US is going to force Pakistan to pick sides and regardless of the facts that Sino-Pakistan relations and CPEC are critical to the regional peace and prosperous.
The US, China and Pakistan’s relations are a complex triangle relationship rather than a zero-sum dynamics, this means there was a bit of me in you and a bit of you in me.
Don’t forget the most famous reference of the US, China and Pakistan triangle relationship is that Pakistan played as a conduit for the US-China rapprochement in 1970s’.
How to jointly respond to the U.S. diplomatic pressure and find a new way to transform this triangle relationships into a force for stability and prosperity in the region are challenges for present Sino-Pakistan relations.
Over the past 70 years, the governments and people of China and Pakistan have always stood firmly together and supported each other no matter how the international and domestic situations changed.
During the Cold War confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Pakistani government continued to maintain friendly relations with China despite the threats and warnings of the United States.
During the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, the Chinese people and the Pakistani people firmly stood together to oppose the Soviet Union’s aggression.
In the global war against terrorism since the beginning of the 21st century, Pakistan has firmly supported the Chinese government in its fight against “three forces” in Xinjiang, China firmly supports and fully affirms Pakistan’s counter-terrorism policies and operations.
In March 2020, during the epidemic in Wuhan, Pakistan President Arif Alvi visited China and provided a large amount of medical supplies, which highlighted Pakistan’s strong support to the Chinese government and people.
The Chinese medical team’s support to Pakistan and the large quantity of vaccine provided to Pakistan have shown that China will always be Pakistan’s strongest supporter in the fight against the global epidemic.
The friendship between China and Pakistan is an iron friendship that can stand the test of the changing international situation and cannot be denigrated or alienated by any force.
—The writer is a PhD associate research fellow, Director of Research Centre on Pakistan, China (Kunming) Academy of South and Southeast Asia Studies.