By Muhammad Luqman
Pakistan and China have decided to celebrate 2019 as an year of friendship and to establish relationships between corresponding Chinese and Pakistani cities and provinces.
In a joint statement issued by the foreign offices of both the countries simultaneously on Sunday, the two sides agreed to further enhance cooperation between neighboring regions of the two countries, particularly in the areas of economy, trade, transportation, energy, industry, tourism, education, people-to-people contacts and livelihoods.
The statement coincides with the ongoing visit of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan.s first official visit to China from November 2-5.
During his four-day visit, Imran Khan has held meetings with Chinese President, Xi Jinping , Prime Minister Li Keqiang and other officials.
“Pakistan and China have agreed to further strengthen the bilateral relations , with more focus on the China-Pakistan All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership, and build closer China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future in the new era,” began the joint statement.
In political relations and strategic communication, both sides stressed that they will continue to view China-Pakistan relations from a strategic and long-term perspective. The Chinese side reiterated that China’s relationship with Pakistan is always a matter of highest priority in its foreign policy. China appreciated the consistent and strong support by Pakistan to China’s issues of core interest, and reaffirmed its support and solidarity with Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and security.
Both sides agreed to establish the mechanism of China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue and rename the former Strategic Dialogue at Vice Foreign Minister-level to Political Consultations. They also agreed to continue exchange programmes pertaining to training of diplomats. On China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the two sides reiterated that BRI represents a win-win model of international cooperation and provides new opportunities for economic rejuvenation and prosperity of all countries. As a signature project of BRI, the fast development of CPEC has played a significant role in the Belt and Road cooperation.
Pakistan and China reviewed the early harvest phase of CPEC and expressed satisfaction that rapid progress has been made in all areas, especially in the energy sector. The two sides reaffirmed their complete consensus on the future trajectory of the CPEC, timely completion of its on-going projects and joint efforts for realization of its full potential with a focus on socio-economic development, job creation and livelihoods and accelerating cooperation in industrial development, industrial parks and agriculture.
Recognizing the significance of Gwadar as an important node in cross-regional connectivity and the central pillar of CPEC, both sides agreed to speed up progress on the Port and its auxiliary projects.
They dismissed the growing negative propaganda against CPEC and expressed determination to safeguard the CPEC projects from all threats. Pakistan recognized the immense contribution of the Chinese personnel working on various economic projects in Pakistan. The Chinese side expressed its appreciation for the measures taken for the security of Chinese personnel and projects in Pakistan. On trade, investment and financial cooperation, the two sides agreed to further consolidate and expand bilateral economic relations as a matter of high priority and to strengthen multi-faceted pragmatic cooperation in trade and investment. They agreed to boost Pakistan’s industrial capacity including through joint ventures in priority areas, relocation of labor-intensive industry and SMEs collaboration.
Pakistan and China, according to the statement, attached importance to friendly cooperation between the People’s Bank of China and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). They expressed satisfaction at the operationalization of the currency-swap agreement and reaffirmed the need to further strengthen cooperative ties of financial and banking sectors between the two countries. Both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation on tourism promotion. On marine, science and technology, space, environmental and agricultural cooperation, both sides agreed to further strengthen policy dialogue and strategic communication on maritime issues and expressed satisfaction on the Pakistan-China Maritime Cooperation Dialogue. They agreed to continue their close cooperation on navigation security, marine economy, exploration and utilization of marine resources, marine scientific research and marine environmental protection.
Both sides agreed to further expand and deepen their collaboration including in the areas of new and emerging technologies, nanotechnology, biotechnology, ICT, which can contribute to improved living standards through their applications in the fields of health, agriculture, water, energy and food security.
Expressing satisfaction on the launch of Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite earlier this year, both sides agreed to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in space technology applications. The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in the field of manned space, and the China Manned Space Engineering Office and SUPARCO will sign a framework agreement on cooperation.
Both sides agreed to enhance their cooperation in the areas of climate change, desertification control, desalination, water management, afforestation and ecological restoration, wetland protection and restoration, wildlife protection, forestry industry development, disaster management and risk reduction, and other areas of mutual interest. Both sides agreed to build on existing cooperation in the area of agriculture and explore new areas of joint collaboration. On social sector cooperation, Pakistan expressed a desire to learn from the Chinese poverty alleviation model, which has lifted over 700 million people out of poverty over the last forty years. China is willing to strengthen policy dialogue, experience sharing and capacity building in the field of poverty reduction with Pakistan, and support Pakistan to establish poverty alleviation demonstration projects. The Chinese assistance will also be directed towards agriculture, education, health, poverty alleviation, safe drinking water, and vocational training.
The Pakistan side recognized China’s unremitting efforts to combat corruption and its great achievements, and evinced interest in learning from the Chinese experience and accomplishments in the field of anti-corruption. On people-to-people and cultural linkages, both sides reiterated the importance of people-to-people contacts and cultural exchanges and agreed to encourage mutual visits of nationals of the two countries. Both sides agreed to improve visa facilitation for mutual visits.
The Chinese side agreed to continue supporting Pakistan in technical and vocational training to develop a skilled manpower for employment in CEPC projects. They agreed to further promote exchanges between the think tanks including through conferences, seminars and fellowships. Both sides would encourage cooperation between their media houses and exchange visits and training programs for journalists/media personnel. Both sides agreed to further enhance cooperation in culture, arts, broadcasting, films, publication and sports under the Executive Programme of the Cultural Agreement between the two countries. The two sides shall discuss the possibility to organize an Ancient Pakistan and Gandhara Artifacts Exhibition in Beijing. They also agreed to strengthen cooperation in the field of sports. The respective sports authorities will discuss further details. The two sides will actively encourage and support their publishing houses to translate and print literary classics so that the people of the two countries can appreciate each other’s rich culture.
Both sides agreed to further enhance cooperation against “Three Evils” of extremism, terrorism and separatism. Both sides will continue to regularly utilize their existing mechanisms of Strategic Dialogue and Counter-terrorism and Security Consultations to further promote communication and cooperation in relevant fields.
The Chinese side conveyed its support to Pakistan’s commitment and efforts to counter terrorism, assured Pakistan of its support in implementing its counter-terrorism strategy, and commended the tremendous sacrifices made by the Pakistani nation in fight against terrorism and for Pakistan’s immense contribution to regional and international peace and security through its achievements and successes. The Chinese side recognized Pakistan’s efforts in actively strengthening financial regulations to combat terrorism financing, and called on all relevant parties to view Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts in an objective and fair manner.
The Pakistani side reaffirmed its support to the Chinese side in safeguarding its sovereignty and security, and combating separatism, terrorism and extremism including East Turkistan Islamic Movement. On international and regional issues, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, promoting international peace and security, and safeguarding the contemporary world order and the UN-centric international system. They agreed to jointly promote multilateralism, free trade and win-win cooperation. The two sides support a consensus-based reform of the United Nations so that it responds to the interests and concerns of all Member States. Being major contributors to the UN Peacekeeping Operations over the years, the two sides agreed to enhance policy coordination, capacity building and sharing of good practices on peacekeeping.