The unique China-Pakistan relationship

The uniqueness lies in the sincerity and concrete actions to help each other through weal and woe

Nong Rong November 10, 2022
The writer is the Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan


The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China successfully concluded a few days ago, and so did Shehbaz Sharif’s maiden visit to China as Prime Minister. The significance of these two major events is self-evident and far-reaching.

The CPC National Congress came at a time when China embarks on a new journey towards a modern socialist country and advances toward the Second Centenary Goal. It has charted the course and established the guide to action for the cause of the Party and the country. General Secretary Xi Jinping was re-elected by a unanimous vote at the first plenary session of the 20th CPC Central Committee. That will provide the most fundamental political guarantee for China to embark on a new journey to build China into a modern socialist country in all respects.

Facing a highly uncertain world, China is responding to the uncertainties with its own certainty, hedging the instability of the international situation with the stability of its domestic and foreign policies; providing a strong and lasting impetus for the recovery of the world economies with high-quality development and high-level opening up; and making unremitting efforts for a peaceful development of the region and the world with a responsible attitude. As President Xi Jinping told PM Shehbaz, China will continue its fundamental policy of opening up and provide new opportunities to Pakistan and the rest of the world through continuous development.

PM Shehbaz, being the first head of government visiting China after the 20th CPC National Congress, successfully concluded his first visit to China after taking office. China received the PM with premium courtesy. President Xi, Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman Li Zhanshu of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress held talks with him. Both sides issued joint statement and signed or concluded a number of agreements/MoUs, in areas of e-commerce, digital economy, export of agricultural product, financial cooperation, protection of cultural property, infrastructure, flood relief, post-disaster reconstruction, Global Development Initiative, animal disease control, livelihood, cultural cooperation, space, geosciences as well as law enforcement and security.

President Xi met PM Shehbaz twice in less than two months, and personally invited him to visit China immediately after the 20th National Congress, which fully demonstrates the uniqueness of the bilateral relations and Pakistan’s important position in China’s overall diplomacy. This uniqueness lies in the high level of strategic coordination and political mutual trust. ‘Ironclad friendship’ is a special term to describe the relationship between the two countries. Pakistan sees its relations with China as a cornerstone of its foreign policy. China, as President Xi told PM Shehbaz, views its relations with Pakistan from a strategic and long-term perspective, and puts it as priority in China’s neighborhood diplomacy.

The uniqueness of the China-Pakistan relations lies in mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests. This year, Pakistan gave firm support to China in response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and attempts to stir up Xinjiang-related issues at the Human Rights Council. Likewise, China supports Pakistan in safeguarding sovereignty, territorial integrity and security, and promoting its socio-economic development and prosperity. Our close coordination has gone beyond the bilateral level to the multilateral and international arena, jointly promoting implementation of the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, and work together to make the global governance more just and equitable.

The uniqueness of the China-Pakistan relations lies in the strong support of practical cooperation underpinned by CPEC which features 47 projects that have been started or completed with a total investment of more than $25 billion; 150,000 jobs have also been created. The 11th JCC was held on October 27, laying a strong foundation for the visit during which the leaders of the two countries reached important consensus on the ML-1 project for its early implementation. China also agreed to actively advance the Karachi Circular Railway and encourage Chinese enterprises to participate in solar and other renewable energy projects. In the next phase of CPEC, China will step up cooperation in industry, agriculture, science and technology to better serve Pakistan’s industrialisation and enhance its export competitiveness. New concepts like health corridor, industrial corridor, digital corridor and green corridor will become important part of the high-quality development of CPEC. Moreover, Pakistan’s exports to China are expected to exceed $4 billion this year. Among them, agriculture serves as an emerging growth area. Pakistan’s agricultural trade surplus with China reached $640 million last year, a 13-time increase year-on-year. Facilitation arrangements for cherry exports to China were also made during the visit. China welcomes Pakistan to explore its mega-market and looks forward to more high-quality Pakistani food and agricultural products for entry. Pakistan’s efforts to strengthen security guarantees for Chinese investors, and efforts to solve issues facing the CPEC IPPs contribute to encouraging Chinese investors to start businesses in Pakistan and unleash the broader potential for business cooperation.

The uniqueness of the China-Pakistan relations lies in the sincerity and concrete actions to help each other through weal and woe. Chinese people will not forget that after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in China, Pakistan donated all tents in reserve. Facing unprecedented floods in Pakistan this year, China in no time provided Pakistan full range of assistance, with the total amount of funds and materials reaching 660 million yuan. During the PM’s visit, China announced an extra 500 million yuan emergency aid for post-disaster reconstruction, making the total aid to 1.16 billion yuan (Rs36 billion), ranking first among other countries. China also sent expert teams on post-disaster assessment and health care to Pakistan to assist in disaster relief and reconstruction.

The uniqueness of the China-Pakistan relations lies in the intensity and depth of exchanges in various fields. We enjoy close cooperation, trust and communication between the armed forces of the two countries, and will continue to advance military and security cooperation. In the field of culture, two countries extended the agreement on cultural cooperation and its implementation plan to 2027. Year 2023 will usher in the China-Pakistan Year of Tourism and Exchange; and the Gandhara Art Exhibition will be held at the Palace Museum in Beijing to showcase Pakistan’s diverse culture and long history of interaction with China. With the easing of the pandemic, the issue of Pakistani students returning to China has been effectively resolved. The gradual resumption of direct flights operation with more frequency, people-to-people exchanges between the two countries will surely become more active.

Standing at a new historical stage, as the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, I have more confidence and higher expectations for the future of our bilateral relations. We will work closely with Pakistan to fully implement the outcomes of PM Shehbaz’s visit to China, illustrating the opportunities and significance of the 20th CPC National Congress for China, Pakistan and the world; speed up to build a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era; and inject new impetus into our All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2022.

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