China on Friday threw its weight behind Pakistan for ‘independently’ choosing a development path based on its ‘national interest’ striving for a better external security environment.
The statement was part of the joint statement issued after talks between China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Beijing.
The visit came against the backdrop of a host of regional developments suggesting new alignments with China increasingly taking the lead in shaping up the dynamics.
Both sides reviewed bilateral ties including China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), regional and international issues as well as how to deal with the covid-19 particularly its economic fallout. But the significant part of the joint statement was China’s support for Pakistan to independently evolve policies suited to its national interests.
“The Chinese side reiterated that Pakistan and China are iron brothers and Pakistan remains China’s staunchest partner in the region and that China firmly supports Pakistan in safeguarding its territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence, independently choosing a development path based on its national conditions, striving for a better external security environment and playing a more constructive role on international and regional affairs,” the joint communiqué read.
This statement may be aimed at conveying a message to those countries some of which are Pakistan’s friends not to persuade Islamabad for taking decisions that may hurt the country’s long term interest.
It is believed that certain Pakistani friends in the Arab world are pushing Islamabad to distance itself from China and forge closer ties with the United States and its allies. However, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a recent television interview made it clear that Pakistan considered China a long term strategic and economic partner.
The joint statement suggests that Pakistan is not ready to compromise on Belt and Road Initiative and would continue to pursue its flagship program — CPEC — irrespective of the pressure being exerted by certain international players.
Both sides underscored that CPEC has entered the new phase of high-quality development, and has played and will continue to play an important role in supporting Pakistan to overcome the impact of Covid-19 and achieve greater development.
The two sides will continue to firmly advance the construction of CPEC, ensure in-time completion of under-construction projects, focus on economic and social development, job creation and improvement of people’s livelihood, and further strengthen cooperation in Specialised Economic Zones, industrial relocation, science and technology, medical and health, human resources training, poverty alleviation, and agriculture etc., with the aim to continuously unleash the great potential of CPEC to make it a hub of regional connectivity.
Both sides expressed satisfaction on agreements reached on recent mega energy projects and look forward to convening the 10th JCC meeting at the earliest possible date to promote CPEC to make positive contributions to the high-quality construction of BRI.
Both sides reaffirmed the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits in building CPEC, and welcomed the international community to join in the CPEC construction on the basis of consensus to achieve shared development.
The two foreign ministers also discussed the regional security situation including Kashmir. Both sides underlined that a peaceful, stable, cooperative and prosperous South Asia was in common interest of all parties.
Parties need to settle disputes and issues in the region through dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual respect. The Pakistani side briefed the Chinese side on the situation in Jammu & Kashmir, including its concerns, position and current urgent issues. The Chinese side reiterated that the Kashmir issue is a dispute left over from history between India and Pakistan, which is an objective fact, and that the dispute should be resolved peacefully and properly through the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation.
On its part the Pakistani side appreciated China for standing together with Pakistan in safeguarding its national security and sovereignty, and reaffirmed its firm support to China on affairs concerning China’s core interests and issues of major concern, such as those related to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.
Both sides reiterated that the enduring China-Pakistan All-weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership is beneficial to international and regional peace and stability, and serves the mutual security and development interests of both countries as well as of international community and regional countries.
Both sides were committed to firmly implementing the consensus reached between the two leaders, enhancing mutual strategic trust, strengthening all-round cooperation, maintaining momentum of high-level exchanges, further advancing construction of Belt and Road Initiative, promoting bilateral relationship to a higher level, and delivering greater benefits to both countries and the two peoples.
Both sides expressed satisfaction over cooperation on regional and international issues at multilateral fora such as the UN, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and ASEAN Regional Forum, and agreed to deepen coordination and cooperation to safeguard mutual interests and uphold principles of fairness and justice. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and support for multilateralism, free trade and win-win cooperation, and opposition to unilateralism, protectionism and coercive practices.
Both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation on the Afghan issue and appreciated the efforts made by Afghan government and the Taliban to initiate the Intra-Afghan Negotiations. They emphasised the importance of an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive negotiated agreement for future political settlement in Afghanistan.
While reaffirming their commitment to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned Peace Process, both sides encouraged relevant parties in Afghanistan to seize this historic opportunity and commence the Intra-Afghan Negotiations at the earliest leading to durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
China appreciated Pakistan’s positive contribution to the Afghan peace process and efforts for promoting peace and stability in region and beyond.
Both China and Pakistan reaffirmed the vitality of the time-tested and All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership between the two countries which remains unaffected by the vicissitudes of the regional and international developments and continues to move from strength to strength.
Both sides agreed that Pakistan and China have stood in solidarity and worked together since the Covid-19 outbreak by timely sharing of experiences relating to the prevention and control of the virus, mutual support in providing medical materials, and have set an example for international community to jointly fight the pandemic. Both sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation in developing a vaccine to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic, and strive to promote establishment of China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future and Community of Common Health. Both sides emphasized that unity and cooperation are the most powerful weapon for the international community against the disease.
Both sides opposed politicising the pandemic, labelling viruses; supported WHO to play a leading role in global public health governance, and called for the international community to increase the sense of a community of shared future and carry out effective joint prevention and control measures in order to mitigate the negative effects of Covid-19.