BEIJING: Military ties between China and Pakistan are the 'backbone' of relations between the two countries, a senior Chinese general told visiting army chief, days after a Pakistani minister stirred unease about Chinese Silk Road projects.
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Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa is the most senior Pakistani figure to visit ally China since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan took office in August, and his trip comes a week or so after a senior Chinese diplomat visited Islamabad.
Islamabad has deepened ties with Beijing in recent years as relations with the United States have frayed.
On Tuesday, Zhang Youxia, a deputy chairman of China’s Central Military Commission which President Xi Jinping heads, reiterated to the COAS that the two countries are “all weather” strategic cooperative partners.
COAS met Gen Zhang Youxia, VC CMC. Both discussed areas of furthering bilateral military cooperation. Gen Zhang termed Pak-China mil coop an imp pillar of bilateral relations which should be further strengthened to safeguard common security challenges. pic.twitter.com/vV0NErCmuR— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) September 18, 2018
“China-Pakistan military ties are an important backbone of relations between the two countries,” said Zhang according to a statement by China’s Defence Ministry late on Tuesday.
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“The two militaries should further pay close attention to practical cooperation in all areas, keep raising the ability to deal with various security risks and challenges, and join hands to protect the common interests of both countries.”
COAS met PLA Chief. Regional security environment, security of CPEC and bilateral security cooperation discussed. Chinese Gen expressed his keen desire to benefit from Pakistan Army’s combat experience and also expand bilateral cooperation. pic.twitter.com/E5K2DdshMD— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) September 17, 2018
However, Zhang cited Xi as saying that the Belt and Road initiative should be a benchmark for China-Pakistan ties. He said China appreciated the new government’s platform of fully promoting the relationship and that China was willing to work with the new government to push construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Beijing has pledged to invest about US$60 billion in Pakistan for infrastructure for the Belt and Road project.