SINO-PAK Friendship and Cooperation

Pakistan and China ties are between two nations and not confined to the government only. These relations have gone beyond bilateral

Pakistan and China decided jointly to celebrate 2011 as Year of Friendship on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic rela­tionship between them. China and Pakistan are holding a series of activities in the politi­cal, economic, trade, military, cultural, sporting, education and health fields. As part of this year’s celebration, both countries have worked together on organising diverse arrangement of 69 events in diplomatic, cultural and educational areas with an average of five events a month and 14 in May and 12 in November.

Pakistan-China ties are between two nations, not confined to the governments only. These relations have gone beyond bilateral dimensions and acquired broader regional and international ramifications. Friendship and cooperation between them serve the fundamental interests of the two countries and development in the region and beyond. China has reiterated that it always places consolidation and development of relations will Pakistan high on its diplomatic agenda and is firm on the policy of pursuing friendly ties with Pakistan. Beijing is ready to work with Islamabad to further deepen friendship and pass it on to posterity. The Chinese side appreciates Pakistan’s longstanding firm support on issues that concern China’s core interests.

Chinese PM Wen Jiabao inaugurated the Pak-­China Friendship Centre in December 2010, which is an icon of our evergreen relationship and a platform for promotion of mutual cultural ties. The founda­tion of the Centre was laid by Wen in April 2005. It is a gift from the Chinese Government to Pakistanis and has been built at a cost of Rs 2.5 billion in 22 months.

People-to-People and Media Contacts

China and Pakistan will expand cultural, sporting and people-to-people interactions in a comprehensive manner, and engage in broad contacts between universities, think-tanks, academic institutions, mass media and film and TV.

China and Pakistan will establish cultural centres in each other’s country and will maintain and expand step-by-step 100 youth exchange programmes and enhance cooperation in young officials training, exchanges between young entrepreneurs and young volunteer services.

China will invite 100 senior middle school/high school students from Pakistan for the summer camp of Chinese Bridge and continue to provide Confucius Institute scholarships to Pakistani university students.

China will provide 500 government scholarships to Pakistan in three years starting in 2011. Both countries will also enhance their cooperation in science and tech­nology, applied sciences, learning of Chinese and Urdu languages. The Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries will undertake the China-Pakistan Friendship Bringing-Light Tour to Pakistan and provide free surgical treatment for 1000 Pakistani cataract patients in two years. The two sides will open new air routes and increase flights. Today, the historic friendship between Pakistan and China is recognised by the world as a unique and durable relationship having very different cultures and languages, but bound by a common vision for regional and global peace and progress.

For over four decades now, the Pakistan-China friendship has been spread over and cemented in diverse fields of geo-politics, economics, socio-cultural exchange, civil and military infrastructural develop­ment and other such areas of bilateral cooperation and investment. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of our friendship – and the most important one – is it being deeply rooted and firmly entrenched in the hearts and minds of the people of countries.

For reasons, we are all aware of, the current global environment places tremendous premium on the importance of winning hearts and minds to strengthen relations between countries. Pakistan and China enjoy a unique position of having proven to the world that if people are put at the centre of a bilateral relationship, it is bound to grow strong and resilient.

In this respect, both governments’ sustained emphasis and focus on exchange of and cooperation in information and socio-cultural sectors, such as broadcast media, has played a major role in bringing the two countries closer. Today an average 30-year-old Pakistani man or woman would easily be able to recall the beautiful weekend Chinese language films that he/she grew up watching on Pakistani TV. They harbour happy childhood memories of watching colour­ful Chinese cultural troupes performing in Pakistani cities being broadcasted live on Pakistani TV. They remember with nostalgia the splendid Pakistani TV dramas depicting the historic making of Pakistan’s famous Karakoram Highway by Chinese workers and soldiers.

For over four decades now, the Pakistan-China friendship has been spread over and cemented in diverse fields of geo-politics, economics, socio-cultural exchange, civil and military infrastructural develop­ment, and other such areas of bilateral cooperation and investment.

Many Pakistanis tune into a regular Radio Pakistan transmission to enjoy special programmes on Chinese music and culture. With the objective of projecting our friendship, the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) introduced its 30-minute Chinese service in 1997 that reaches Beijing, Shanghai, Central China and Japan.

The PBC’s Chinese service covers daily and weekly news and commentaries in Chinese; daily Pakistani and Chinese music transmissions; special programmes on national days of China; and interviews of visiting Chinese delegations, as well as Chinese students and business community living in Pakistan. With Pakistan and China having established a sustainable broadcast media cooperation case, the two governments are now intensifying their objectives to build on it further.

In this respect, during the first official visit to China of Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari in October 2008, Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and SARFT of the Peoples Republic of China signed an agreement for cooperation in the field of radio and TV.

The agreements seek to create an enabling frame­work consisting of exchange of expertise, technology, skill base, information and ideas, programming con­tent and other collaborative ventures. In line with this agreement, the information ministry and PTV and PBC – are developing plans for basing resident correspondents in our respective capitals; sharing TV and radio programmes; creating joint productions; exchanging TV and radio producers, news casters, anchor persons, reporters and artists; and conducting reciprocal professional training programmes.

New heights in the Pakistan-China bilateral relationship

Following the establishment of Pak-China diplomatic relationship in May 1951, both countries has attained many milestones in their bilateral relationship. In the era of Ayub Khan, the then foreign minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto formalised this relationship at the strategic level. Through his strategic vision, he made Pak-China relationship as an essential and never changing pillar of the foreign policy of Pakistan. The same vision exists even today and Pakistan has maintained it as an inalienable part of its diplomatic relationship.

Pak-China friendship is based on four pillars; geography, history, economics and necessity. Owing to the geographical contiguity, we are neighbours, whereas history has made us friends. Likewise; economics has made us partners, whereas, necessity has made us allies. Pakistan has the honour of recognising this great neighbour soon after it came into being and supported the restoration of its legitimate position in the UN. Later, China helped Pakistan in the construction of a road linking China’s Xingjian region with the Gilgit-Baltistan. The strategic partnership between the both countries was initially driven by the mutual needs and to counter the influence of other regional and extra regional powers. Apart from the political connections, both countries had developed military relationship which subsequently led towards creation of a Joint Committee of Economy, Trade and Technology in 1982.

Earlier, Pakistan played a very crucial role in bringing United States and China closer to each other in early 1970s. The opportunities had allowed China to come out from the close door economy and regional politics, thus allowing it to interact with the countries at the global level. Because of that beginning, China later tailored its political outlook, trade and industrialisation and has now emerged as a global power.

The friendship between the two countries has matured into a comprehensive strategic partnership for peace and development in the region and abroad. Over the years, this friendship has survived numerous geo-political and geo-strategic changes which took place at the global and regional level. At the global level, China had always supported Pakistani point of view on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. Subsequent to Indo-US Strategic Partnership in 2005, Pakistan and China had signed a landmark ‘Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation’, whereby both committed themselves that ‘neither party will join any alliance or bloc which infringes upon the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of either nation, and ‘would not conclude treaties of this nature with any third party.’

The joint statement issued after the end of prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s visit to China last month, termed Pakistan an important state of the region and called for respecting its sovereignty, independence and territori­al integrity. The statement was based on the formal meetings of prime minister Gilani with the Chinese leadership. Apart from president Hu Jintao and prime minister Wen Jiabao, prime minister Gilani has met with the Chairman of the CPPCC’s National Committee Jia Qinlin and State Councillor Liu Yandong. The leadership of the China appreciated the “tremendous efforts and great sacrifice that Pakistan has made in fighting terrorism and reiterated its respect and support for Pakistan’s efforts to advance its counter-terrorism strategy and safeguard its security.” Both countries decided to jointly fight the threats posed by terrorism, extremism and separatism.

The two countries noted that terrorism, separatism and extremism were posing serious threats to regional peace, stability and security and called for substantive cooperation. Both sides agreed to jointly fight these under bilateral and multilateral frameworks. The Chinese side recognised the tremendous efforts and the great sacrifice that Pakistan have made in fighting terrorism and reiterated its respect and support for the efforts of Pakistan to advance its counterterrorism strategy and safeguard its security, the joint statement mentioned. Pakistan reiterated that it would never allow its ter­ritory to be used to attack any country and would contin­ue to support international counterterrorism initiatives.

During the meetings the two leaders reached broad agreement on continuing to work to promote China-Pakistan strategic partnership of cooperation. Both the countries agreed to strengthen communication and coordination in regional affairs, particularly on the hotspot issues such as Afghanistan and regional cooperation.

It pointed that it would be in line with the principles and spirit of the treaty of friendship, cooperation and good neighbourly relations between Pakistan and China signed in 2005. Pakistan also reiterated its firm commitment to the One China Policy and extended support for the cause of China’s unification. Both countries agreed to further intensify coop­eration in infrastructure development, energy and agriculture on priority basis in line with the decisions taken during the visit of Premier Wen Jiabao to Pakistan. Leaders of the both sides also noted the recent progress in mutually beneficial cooperation in the financial and banking sectors. Negotiations between the two countries are underway regarding currency swaps and opening of ICBC branches in Pakistan.

Pak-China friendship is based on four pillars; geography, history, economics and necessity. Owing to the geographical contiguity, we are neighbours, whereas history has made us friends. Likewise; economics has made us partners, whereas, necessity has made us allies.

Pakistan and China also reiterated to continue to enhance mutual trust and cooperation in the military and security fields for peace, security and stability of the two countries and the region. They also agreed to give further impetus to the cooperation in the field of maritime security. The two sides noted the excellent framework for bilateral trade and econo­mic cooperation in the form of five-year development programme on trade and economic cooperation and the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement. The establishment of the China-Pakistan Entrepreneurs Forum will further strengthen exchanges between their busi­ness communities. The two sides also signed three agreements and memorandums of understanding on cooperation in the fields of economic ­assistance, finance and mining.

Prime minister Gilani and the Chinese leadership reviewed with satisfaction the growth of Pakistan-China relations, since the establishment of their ties and agreed that the all-weather and time-tested friendship and multi-dimensional cooperation have become the defining features of these relations. The leaders are firmly commi­tted to expanding and deepening the strategic partne­rship, economic collaboration and people-to- people contacts. They agreed that China-Pakistan Friendship Year is an occasion to celebrate the friendshi­p. Both the countries also reviewed with satisfaction the momentum of activities being maintained in political, economic collab­oration and people-to-people contacts.

By: Capt(r) Syed Muhammad Abid Qadri

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