BEIJING: China has expressed willingness to further expand the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and said the related projects will speed up regional development.
Beijing also reaffirmed its unwavering support to Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as on all issues of the country’s core national interest. The reiteration came from President Xi Jinping during meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing on Wednesday.
The Chinese president appreciated government’s agenda for the socio-economic development and people-centred progress. He underscored that China’s relationship with Pakistan was rock-solid and unbreakable and that strong vibrancy between the two countries would deepen and broaden in future. President Xi Jinping lauded Pakistan’s efforts to expeditiously execute the CPEC projects and stressed that it would help national and regional economic development process. He also lauded Pakistan’s efforts in combating terrorism and maintained that Pakistan through institutional and economic reforms was resolutely and promisingly on the way to substantial economic development. The two leaders exchanged views on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues in a cordial and friendly atmosphere.
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Imran Khan underscored that China was Pakistan’s steadfast ally, staunch partner and iron brother. He maintained that China had firmly stood by Pakistan in supporting Pakistan’s core national interests and played a major role in advancing Pakistan’s economic as well as national development goals. Imran Khan affirmed that speedy completion of CPEC projects was number one priority of his government and that CPEC, an integral part of President Xi’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), would play a transformational role in accelerating Pakistan’s economic development and promoting regional connectivity and prosperity. The prime minister also reaffirmed Pakistan’s steadfast support to China on all issues of its core interest. Highlighting the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), Imran Khan underscored that the continued lockdown of millions of Kashmiris for over two months had created a dire humanitarian situation in held territory. The prime minister stressed the urgency to immediately lift curfew in IOK to alleviate the sufferings of the Kashmiris to avert risks to peace and security in the region. Both the leaders agreed that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan would promote economic development and connectivity in the region and expressed the resolve to continue to support peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The Chinese president and Imran Khan expressed satisfaction over the close cooperation between the two countries at multilateral fora and resolved to further deepen strategic communication and coordination at all levels to strengthen Pakistan-China all weather strategic cooperation. They also agreed to keep the momentum of high-level exchanges between the two countries. The prime minister was accompanied by foreign minister, minister for planning, development and reform, minister for railways, adviser on commerce, special assistant on energy and chairman BOI. The Chief of Army Staff, DG ISI and other senior officials.
Meanwhile, talking to Chairman National People’s Congress Li Zhanshu at the Great Hall of the People, Imran Khan said completion of Phase-II of CPEC will help promote further socio-economic development and livelihood opportunities for the people of Pakistan. Imran Khan particularly noted that he wants to learn from China’s experience of poverty mitigation and expressed his determination to reduce poverty in Pakistan by following China’s model. He also solicited support of China in improving Pakistan’s agriculture and Artificial Intelligence sectors. He proposed that, given Pakistan’s unique advantages, Chinese companies may relocate their industries to Pakistan.
Li Zhanshu reaffirmed Chinese leadership’s commitment to supporting Pakistan on issues of its core national interest. He said China would support Pakistan in initiatives proposed by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Li Zhanshu also maintained that both China and Pakistan could propose new projects that could be included in CPEC. Both leaders agreed to carry forward the momentum of bilateral visits and enhance parliamentary linkages to further cement Pakistan-China bilateral ties. They also underscored commitment to enhance cooperation in political, cultural, educational and people-to-people ties. The prime minister invited the NPC chairman to visit Pakistan, which he graciously accepted.
In a joint statement after the conclusion of Imran Khan’s visit, Pakistan and China reaffirmed their resolve to further strengthening Pakistan-China all-weather strategic cooperative partnership aimed at building a community of shared future in the new era. The two sides observed that the close ties, deep-rooted friendship and strategic partnership between Pakistan and China served the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples, and contributed to peace, stability and development in the region. They also reaffirmed their support on issues concerning each other’s core interests.
The Chinese leaders reiterated solidarity with Pakistan in safeguarding its territorial sovereignty, independence and security. The Pakistan side reaffirmed its commitment to the One China Policy. Pakistan reiterated that affairs of Hong Kong are China’s internal matter and all countries should uphold international law and basic norms of non-interference in internal affairs of other countries. The Pakistan’s leadership briefed the Chinese side on the situation in IOK, including its concerns, position and current urgent issues.
The Chinese side responded that it is paying close attention to the current situation in IOK and reiterated that the Kashmir issue is a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation.
Pakistan underscored that the CPEC is a transformational project. Both sides maintained that the second phase of CPEC will promote industrial and socio-economic development in Pakistan. Pakistan also underlined that the Gwadar Port has been granted various facilities enabling it to become a trade and logistical hub for the region. The two sides expressed determination to speedily execute CPEC so that its growth potential can be fully realised.
The two sides maintained that the ninth session of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) to be held next month in Islamabad would further fast-track implementation of the ongoing projects and explore new avenues of cooperation, including ML-1. They underlined that Chinese investment in special economic zones and collaboration in small and medium enterprise sector would further expand Pakistan’s industrial base and diversify its export base. Both sides agreed to jointly study identified projects by the Pakistan side in power, petroleum, gas, agriculture, industrial and infrastructure sectors.
They underlined that educational links between the two countries are becoming stronger. Imran Khan thanked the Chinese leadership for providing opportunities to Pakistani students to study in China. He hoped those students will play an important role in further deepening historic and deep-rooted ties between the two iron brothers.
Reaffirming that there is no military solution to Afghanistan problem, the two sides agreed that peace and stability in Afghanistan is vital for regional security. The Chinese side appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in promoting peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. Both sides maintained that an inclusive, and Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process would be key to bring peace and stability in the country.
Imran Khan left for Islamabad after concluding his two-day official visit to China. He was seen off by Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Luo Zhaohui, Ambassador of China to Pakistan Yao Jing and Ambassador of Pakistan to China Naghmana Hashmi. Tri-Services Static Guard was presented to the prime minister by a smartly turned out contingent upon departure from Beijing.
(This news/article originally appeared in The News on October 10th, 2019)