China, Pakistan share future vision | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

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China, Pakistan share future vision

BOTH China and Pakistan are constantly engaged in a strategic duo–sharing a lasting future vision of their all time strategic relationship — ranging from the CPEC’s soft power influence–to the hard power scope of security and defence matrix.

In this context, their bilateral relations are ‘’serving as the pillar of regional peace and stability and setting a new benchmark for the “Belt and Road” international cooperation’’.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s recent visit to China has ushered in a new era of revitalisation of the Pak-China alliance based on a long lasting confluence of interests.

China and Pakistan share a decades-old legacy of friendly relations based on more than 70 years.

Governments in both the countries have remained changing, but their fidelity to bilateral support and cooperation has remained unswerving.

President Xi told Sharif during the latter’s two-day official visit (1-2 Nov) to China that the development of Gwadar Port, a flagship project of CPEC, should be accelerated and “conveyed his hope that Pakistan will provide a reliable and safe environment for Chinese institutions and personnel working on cooperation projects.

The current dialogue between Beijing and Islamabad covers the issues relating to loan assistance to Pakistan, the growing geo-political concerns, CPEC, energy and Gwadar Port.

Reportedly, the Chinese leadership has promised to facilitate the Pakistan economy by rolling over $4 billion in sovereign loans; refinancing $3.3 billion commercial bank loans and increasing currency swap by about $1.45 billion.

Needless to say, under the charismatic leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has emerged as an unbeatable global power.

It is why, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is becoming a new hallmark of trans-regional connectivity among 140 countries of the globe.

The CPEC is a major limb of the BRI– the first major investment initiative of its kind ever undertaken by a foreign country like Pakistan. It not only reaffirms China’s friendship, but also its confidence in the economic potential of Pakistan.

  CPEC is a vehicle for Pakistan’s progress and promoting people-to-people connectivity and cultural interaction.

CPEC has been orchestrated on the premise of debt sustainability, environmental concerns and transparency. Moreover, the BRI could help eradicate radicalism and extremism, a mega global challenge.

The evolving CPEC’s soft power influence in different parts of Pakistan can be evidenced by the fact that the CPEC is uplifting the women empowerment in Pakistan.

All the more, it is leading to the empowerment of the poor and the marginalized in some of the least developed regions of Pakistan.

And most importantly, CPEC could be used as a great weapon to deepen the pivot of national integration in different provinces of Pakistan through easier and accessible motorways, highways and road links, by now, CPEC moves to the second phase of high-level development, with a focus on capacity, tech cooperation.

And, above all, through its CPEC trajectory of regional integration, China intends to link South Asia to Central Asia, Middle East, Europe and Africa via land and sea.

CPEC is prone to steer a large economic activity in Pakistan and at the same time, its spillover effects will have a positive impact on Central Asian Republics (CARs).

  Pakistan’s membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) provides a boost to the CPEC developmental strategy as well as the energy projects such as Central Asia-South Asia (CASA-1000) and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan Pakistan India gas Pipeline (TAPI).

Geopolitically, both China and Pakistan share a lasting vision based on mutual interests. On its part, China is ardently committed to investing in developing a strategic partnership with Pakistan, as against the odds, it has witnessed in its relationship with the US. China always takes a principled stance on the issue of Pakistan’s membership of the Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG).

And yet, China recognises Kashmir to be a dispute between India and Pakistan and calls for a peaceful solution in line with the UNSC resolutions, UN Charter and bilateral agreements between India and Pakistan.

It opposed unilateral action by India of revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019.

Noteworthy, both countries are against hegemony and seek resolution of outstanding disputes through peaceful means.

In this context, Pakistan-China relations have acquired even greater importance. Pakistan considers China to be a voice of reason and restraint in international affairs.

All the while, the growing security interests dominate our policy priority towards China. Last month, Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa held talks with Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe.

In March, China and Pakistan agreed to step up their defence and counter-terrorism cooperation amidst “challenging times”. As close strategic partners, both Pakistan and China face the challenges of growing instability and turbulence in Afghanistan.

The passive western response to our arms demand notwithstanding, China has profoundly assisted us in making an unimpeachable and insurmountable defence system.

Notably, China, between 2017 and 2021, has been ranked as Pakistan’s largest supplier of major arms, including fighter aircraft, warships, submarines and missiles.

According to the recently issued joint statement, the Chinese side reiterated that relations with Pakistan will always be given the highest priority in its foreign policy.

The Pakistani side underscores that the Pakistan-China relationship is ‘’the cornerstone of its foreign policy’’ and that the Pakistani people always support the close friendship between the two countries.

In the same vein, Islamabad expresses its commitment to the one-China Policy and support on issues of Taiwan, South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.

In response, the Chinese side reaffirms its support for ‘’Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, security, and promoting its socio-economic development and prosperity’’.

Both China and Pakistan voice for a peaceful pacification of the Ukraine conflict. Both sides — Beijing and Islamabad  reiterate their mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests — vindicated by the current Chinese stance on Pakistan: Speaking at a two-day seminar on US-Pakistan relations organized by US’ Simpson centre, Chinese foreign policy expert Yun Sun said Pakistan’s relationship with the US was a factor in China’s overall strategy for South Asia, but “China has plenty of confidence that its relationship with Pakistan is going to continue regardless of the modality of US-Pakistan relations.

The western geopolitical shift — from Asia Pacific to Indo Pacific, which profoundly impacts the strategic culture of the South Asian region — equally draws the attention of both China and Pakistan.

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