By Du Youkang
This year 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In the past seven decades, the world has witnessed tremendous progress in China’s economic and social development and it has become the second largest economy in the world since 2010, with its total GDP of 13.6 trillion US dollar last year, approximately one-sixth of the entire global GDP. Over the same period, significant achievements have also been made in China’s diplomatic work with its independent foreign policy and the path of peaceful development and now China’s friends and partners are all over the world, especially Pakistan, China’s ‘iron brother.’
Both China and Pakistan are countries with ancient civilizations and their traditional friendship can be traced back 2000 years ago. Shortly after the PR’s foundation, Pakistan was among the first countries to recognize it and established diplomatic relations with China in 1951. Since then, thanks to the joint efforts by both governments and peoples, the two countries have become the unique all-weather and all-dimensional strategic cooperative partners in the contemporary international community. The so-called ‘all- weather’ refers to that China and Pakistan have always understood, sympathized, trusted, helped and supported each other on issues concerning their respective core interests, no matter how changing and complicated the international situation is, withstanding the test of time and history. With regard to the ‘all-dimensional’, it means close and comprehensive cooperation exists between the governments, political parties and all other sectors of the community. Therefore, China-Pakistan relations and their cooperation has become the fine model of friendly co-existence between the two countries with different social systems and cultural backgrounds.
Since entering the new century, China-Pakistan ties have entered a new development stage, with a number of important cooperative agreements signed by the two countries, including the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good Neighbourly Relations in 2005 and China- Pakistan Free Trade Agreement in 2006 and 2009. Most important of all, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, during his first visit to Pakistan in May 2013 after assuming office, initiated the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and then the two sides signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation for the Long-Term Plan on CPEC. Later, President Xi Jinping respectively put forward the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road and described the CPEC as ‘a major project of the Belt and Road initiative (BRI)’. The construction of CPEC, linking Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan region, is a milestone in the development of China-Pakistan relations. It plays an important role in Pakistan’s economic and social development and is transforming Pakistan into a geo-economic hub.
China and Pakistan are making
more efforts to advance
the strategic cooperation in
regional and international
Meanwhile, located at a juncture where the Belt and Road meet, it also plays the irreplaceable key roles in the construction of BRI, making it essential to the latter’s success. Moreover, by becoming a flagship project of the BRI and a leading model of inter-regional connectivity, CPEC is destined to forward the construction of BRI. Therefore, great importance has been attached to the position and roles of the Corridor in building BRI. In fact, remarkable progress has been made in building CPEC. Over 20 early harvest projects, involved in the Gwadar Port, energy, industrial and transportation infrastructure, started to construct, while nearly half of which have been completed during the past few years. After 5 years’ construction, CPEC is entering a new stage of enrichment and extension with a focus on cooperative projects such as livelihood, industrial gardens, education, science and technology, culture, people-to-people exchanges, poverty relief, anti-corruption and so on, in accordance with Pakistan’s economic and social development priorities and the needs of the public. However, the world today is facing profound changes of a kind unseen in a century. There are some unstable and uncertain factors in the international situations, such as setbacks in economic globalization, challenges to multilateralism, shocks in the international financial market, the US economic and trade frictions with a large number of countries, and the latest escalation of tension in Kashmir. Therefore, China and Pakistan are making more efforts to advance the strategic cooperation in regional and international affairs, such as maintaining sound cooperation on Afghanistan-related issues. No matter how international and regional situations change, Pakistan continues to support China’s position on Taiwan, Tibet and other issues, while China supports Pakistan in safeguarding its legitimate rights and interests, combating terrorists and extremist forces, and is playing a constructive role in international and regional affairs. China stands for a proper and peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue, based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreement and with no unilateral actions.
In a word, China-Pakistan traditional friendship, as described by the Pakistani people, is higher than the mountains, deeper than the sea, and sweeter than honey. Now, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, a series of celebratory activities organized by China and Pakistan will inject new vigour and vitality into their traditional friendship and further promote their strategic coordination and practical cooperation. Looking to the future, China, committed to the construction of a new type of international relations and the community of shared future for mankind, will work together with Pakistan to build the China-Pakistan community of common destiny first.
In general, deeply rooted in the hearts of the two people and withstanding the test of time and changes in the international arena, China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership has a broad, deep and solid foundation, and their bilateral ties with vast potential for greater development have grown from strength to strength, which will deepen with the years and continue from generation to generation.