Pakistan and China Iron Brothers and All-Weather Strategic Partners
Overview of Bilateral Ties
There are few moments in the history of interstate relations which assume a seminal importance and leave a permanent imprint on the canvas of time. May 21, 1951 is one such occasion when Pakistan and China established diplomatic relations thus beginning a journey of unique friendship, mutual trust and understanding.
Bilateral friendship between Pakistan and China was forged in the crucible of times. To a cursory observer, formal ties between the two countries might have been established only seventy years ago but the saga of strong friendship and brotherhood predated the establishment of diplomatic relations and could not be confined to any specific timeframe.
The proud and rich history of Pakistan-China engagement harkens back to ancient times when the modern day Pakistan had become the pulsating hub of Buddhist revival and the rays of Buddha’s universal message of peace and harmony were illuminating the entire region. At that time, many Chinese monks like Fa Xian and Xuan Zang braved the treacherous mountains and scorching deserts to arrive at the famous Buddhist seminaries in Pakistan. They carried back with them not only the light of wisdom and spirituality but also the warm sentiments of brotherly love and respect which underlies our present fraternal ties.
As iron brother, all-weather strategic cooperative partner and closest neighbour, friendship with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Successive generations of leaders and people of the two countries have made valuable contributions to strengthening this inimitable bond of fraternal love and affection. Despite the global and regional changes and vicissitude of different eras, bilateral relationship stood the test of time and maintained its melodic rhythm.
Such is the strength of Pakistan-China friendship that during his meeting with President of Pakistan, Mr. Arif Alvi on 17 March 2020, a leader no lesser than President Xi Jinping himself paid tribute to it in such glowing words:
“Only the toughest grass can stand biting winds and only the solid gold can withstand the test of fire”
Pakistan was the first Muslim state to recognize China in 1950 even before the establishment of diplomatic relations. The first highest level official contacts between the two nations were established in 1955 when Prime Minister Mohammad Ali Bogra held two meetings with Premier Zhou Enlai during Bandung Conference. It was followed by the visits of Prime Minister Hussain Shaheed Suharwardi and Premier Zhou Enlai to China and Pakistan respectively in 1956 further bringing the two nations closer.
Both countries achieved a significant landmark in 1963 when they signed the boundary agreement thus setting a solid foundation for future growth of bilateral relations. Soon after that, Pakistan International Airlines became the first airline of a non-communist country to begin passenger flights to China. With the deepening of our bilateral trust, the cooperation expanded at multilateral forum too as Pakistan became a vocal supporter for the restoration of lawful rights of China in the United Nations. Both countries have maintained the traditions of coordinating closely on all major world issues and supporting each other’s positions at multilateral fora.
Pakistan has always extended its principled and consistent support to China on its foreign policy objectives and issues of core interests. It has always upheld ‘One China Principle’ and stood by China on Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong SAR and South China Sea issues. China has also continued supporting Pakistan’s socio-economic development, territorial integrity and sovereignty and especially its principled stance for the peaceful resolution of Kashmir dispute.
In recent years, a special focus has been placed on enhancing bilateral trade and economic ties. Pakistan’s multifaceted cooperation with China has been revitalized with the launch of China Pakistan Economic Corridor. CPEC as the pilot project of President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative, is a transformational enterprise which has contributed to Pakistan’s national development by upgrading its transport and communications network, building new power plants thus ushering a new era of progress and prosperity in the country. Phase-II of CPEC is focused on industrial relocation, agriculture, science and technology and is basically aligned with the people-centric development agenda of Pakistan to create jobs and improve the livelihood of the people in the country.
China has emerged as the largest FDI investor in Pakistan. During the last five years, China’s accumulative FDI into Pakistan exceeded US$ 4 billion. Hundreds of China’s major state-owned and private enterprises are working in Pakistan on various projects. With a total trade of US$ 18 billion, China is also Pakistan’s largest trading partner. The second phase of China-Pakistan FTA which took effect from January 1, 2020 has increased products coverage for trade liberalization. Now nearly one thousand products enjoy zero tariff in the respective markets providing further impetus to the trade relations.
The 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations is a special occasion as both countries celebrate their ancient civilizational linkages and pledge to renew the resolve to build upon the achievements made in last seventy years. In order to celebrate this unique friendship and mutual trust, the governments and peoples of two countries have planned a galaxy of events which would be organised throughout the year in the two countries.
The 70th anniversary celebrations would, indeed, provide a new vigour and vitality to bilateral ties which has not only served the best interests of two countries but is also imperative for ensuring peace, stability and prosperity of the entire region.
May this sacred flame of friendship and fraternal ties keep glowing with ever-increasing glitter and splendor as the two nations roar ahead for building a closer Pakistan-China Community of Shared Future in the New Era.
Live Long Pakistan-China Friendship!