By Irfan Shahzad Takalvi
I am confident that our joint efforts will usher in an even brighter future of China-Pakistan relations.” This is how Wang Yi, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister concluded his Op-Ed published a couple of days ago.
In this piece published on the day Islamabad and Beijing officially launched the joint celebrations of 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations Wang Yi also highlighted the significance of younger generation of the two countries playing an active role in taking this partnership forward. He indeed is signaling in the right direction.
Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognize People’s Republic of China (PRC) after its founding on October 01, 1949 and the two sides established formal diplomatic ties on May 21, 1951. Since then, the bond between these two nations has grown from strength to strength, continuously over past seven decades. Both sides have helped each other and come to the aid of other, whenever so needed.
Today, it would not be wrong to assert that this relationship serves as an unparalleled model for ties between the nations of the world. Pakistan and China have had totally different ideologies and political systems since day one of joining hands. Yet, it is their shared commitment of non-interference in other’s affairs and mutual respect that their strategic partnership has withstood the vicissitudes of time.
Before the end of 20th Century, the two countries had already accomplished giant symbols of inter-state cooperation such as Karakorum Highway, steels mills, industrial and aeronautical complexes, nuclear power plants and so on – along with extraordinary unanimity of views on important global and regional issues of strategic significance.
Since the start of 21st Century, the two sides are focused more on cementing economic and commercial partnership. Solidifying people-to-people exchanges and injecting betterment in the lives of their respective people, with collaborative strategies.
Free Trade Agreement coming into force in 2007, and now undergoing its second phase, has helped make China Pakistan’s largest trading partner. Now, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – the signature component of China’s mega global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – serves as the driving force. After the first phase of dedicated focus on energy and communications’ infrastructure, CPEC’s second phase is now gearing fast towards industrial cooperation, agriculture and social-sector uplift.
While China has declared a total victory against absolute poverty on its soil, Beijing is now helping Islamabad with dozens of projects – all financed through China’s grant-in-aid of $1 billion being spent over a period of 3 years – aimed at improving quality of life of Pakistani people.
China is now also the single largest source of foreign direct investment – both public and private – coming into Pakistan for past several years. Gwadar, the deep-sea-port built with Chinese assistance, along with CPEC built road-communications’ infrastructure, is fast manifesting Pakistan as a canter of regional commercial activity, for the three regions of South, Central and West Asia. It also means greater outreach of China towards South-West Asia, the Middle East, Africa and beyond. Vice versa too.
And its indeed is not all about CPEC and Gwadar. Massive defense sector cooperation and a giant nuclear power plant of 1000MW are the two examples to mention that there is a lot going on other than CPEC, as well. What is more important to note that the two countries continue to exhibit shared vision and views on regional and global issues, at all for a; bilateral, regional and global.
Pakistan, through CPEC and other forms of mutual cooperation, are not only working to improve their own economies and societies but the two sides are also playing avital role through their collaborative efforts for regional peace, connectivity and integration.
Beyond doubt, there is a lot for the countries of the region in particular and world community at large to learn from Pak-China exchanges and interactions – as a model of inter-state cooperation.
All the generations of China’s ruling Communist Party that turns 100 this year and all parties/governments have played one part or the other in strengthening this relationship. It is an “all-weather strategic cooperative partnership”, to quote the words of Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
While celebrating the 70 years of diplomatic, political, strategic and economic closeness is important in itself, it is even more important to inculcate the spirit of mutual friendship in the future generations, as underscored by Chinese FM. This sprit will enlighten our region, and beyond, in years to come. He may be accessed at email@example.com