The Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi visited Pakistan on the heels of visit by US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. The US Secretary of State was accompanied by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Joseph Dunford. Mr Wang was third Foreign Minister, who visited Pakistan, after new Government took over the state’s affairs in Pakistan. Besides, the Saudi delegation under its Information Minister, Dr. Awwad Saleh al-Awwad also visited Pakistan. These extensive visits of Pakistan by a super power and a rising super power and two important Muslim states speaks of Pakistan’s significance at the global arena as well as in the regional politics. Besides, this visits also indicative of the fact that, international community has a trust on the new Government in Pakistan under Imran Khan. It is expected that, in coming days, there will be many more delegations visiting Pakistan in bestowing their trust over Pakistan and its new leadership. In all these visits, the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister was lengthier, engaging and more productive. Indeed, it was reiteration of the Chinese commitment with Pakistan and all weather friendship between Pakistan and China.
During the three days visit, Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with all significant political leadership of Pakistan besides Army Chief General Bajwa. In his visit with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, there have been discussions on all aspects of bilateral, regional and global issues concerning both countries. Mr Qureshi, said that, “We are proud of Pakistan and China’s friendship.” Indeed, Pakistan and Chinese friendship withstood every test since both established their diplomatic relationship in 1951. There was a clear indication from China, showing an urge to strengthen its strategic cooperation with Pakistan and to stabilize Pakistan in the wake continuous fluid regional security situation. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said that, “two countries, through the visit, can renew our traditional friendship, promote mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas and elevate the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership to a new high.”
It is worth mentioning that, the visit of Chinese FM was also an effort to reinforce vision of President Xi Jinping, who visited Pakistan in April, 2015 and inaugurated the giant project, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This visit was very significant in many respects. The visit was indicative of the fact that, the traditional friendship of China and Pakistan has reached to new heights and with each passing day, the friendship gets deeper and stronger. Indeed, the Sino-Pak relationship has a unique distinction that, despite many ups and down in the regional and global political events, there has been consistency and betterment in the bilateral relationship of both countries without a single fissure noted ever. Sino-Pak relationship has all dimensions; the strategic, political, economic and social. The political leadership of both countries initiated and set the goals and basis for this great relationship on very strong foundations. The beginning was with the recognition of People’s Republic of China, being the first Islamic country to do this and subsequently establishing diplomatic relationship in 1951.
The regional and global security environment dictated the strategic bases of Sino-Pak relationship right from 1950s. It was period of cold war and despite following the different ideologies; Pakistan and China were facing common security challenges to their very survival. Whereas, India had three wars with Pakistan and finally invaded and disintegrated it in 1971, the followers of Chanakya (Kautilya) did not spare China and continue conspiring against it by creating instability along its bordering regions. These Indian conspiracies and sheltering of anti-China leaders like Dalai Lama continued despite 1962, Sino-India war. Indeed, India was the immediate factor, but the international security environment set the stage for the strategic coherence in the bilateral relationship of Pakistan and China. In 1960s and early 1970s, Pakistan made utmost efforts for bridging the ideological and diplomatic gap between China and United States. These efforts paved the way for securing the Seat of permanent membership of UN Security Council by China and Chinese linkages with US, Western world and Muslim world.
In the field of economy, both countries have many commonalities. Over 160 Chinese companies and firms are working in Pakistan for the economic development of Pakistan. These include the exploration of oil and gas, minerals, energy sectors and development of national infrastructure. Although the volume of bilateral trade between Pakistan and China ($20 billions) is less, yet, there are lot of potentials of enhancing it in the coming years with a balance in the trade. On the social level, there is growing interaction between the people of both countries. Traditionally, this has been a grey area, however, through enhanced economic relations; exchange of students and people from civil societies and media, there is lot of warmth for promoting and enhancing this aspect of Sino-Pak bilateral relations.
The strategic nature of Sino-Pak relationship, which essentially emanates from the national interests of both countries are generally attributed as, “community of common destiny”. This is not merely a symbolic phrase, but, truly unite the destinies of both nations; strategically, politically, economically, militarily and finally in the field of social interaction. The visit of Chinese FM was a reiteration to continue work on on all ongoing projects between Pakistan and China, CPEC being the most favorite. It was a good opportunity for the government to clarify all issues with the Chinese authorities regarding CPEC, and its own thinking on the project’s future.
In the wake of contemporary regional and global strategic and economic developments, the visit of Wang Yi indicates a high degree of cooperation and coordination in all fields between Pakistan and China.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations at IIU, is based in Islamabad.