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China, Pakistan agree to safeguard common interests, strengthen cooperation in all areas

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met with his Chinese counterpart on Friday to hold the second round of the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue in the Chinese province of Hainan.

Qureshi, who is accompanied on the two-day official visit by senior officials, led the Pakistani delegation in the strategic dialogue while the Chinese side was led by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

During the meeting, the two sides exchanged views on the coronavirus pandemic, bilateral relations and international and regional issues of mutual interest, according to a joint press release issued after the dialogue.

They also “reached consensus to collectively take measures to safeguard their common interests and promote peace, prosperity, and development in the region”, the statement said.

While reiterating that the ‘China-Pakistan All-weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership’ is beneficial to international and regional peace and stability, the two sides showed commitment for enhancing mutual strategic trust, strengthening cooperation, maintaining the momentum of high-level exchanges, further advancing the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, promoting bilateral relationship to a higher level, and delivering greater benefits to both countries and the two peoples.

According to the press release, the Chinese side reiterated that Pakistan and China are “iron brothers” and Pakistan remains China’s “staunchest partner” in the region and that Beijing firmly supports Pakistan in safeguarding its territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.

The Pakistani side, meanwhile, reaffirmed its 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 underscored that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has entered a “new phase of high-quality development” and will continue to play an important role in supporting Pakistan to overcome the impact of Covid-19 and achieve greater development.

They vowed to continue to firmly advance the construction of CPEC, ensure in-time completion of under-construction projects and focus on economic and social development.

The Foreign Office quoted Qureshi as saying that the on-time completion of projects planned under CPEC Phase II “is one of our top priorities”.

He said the energy projects worth Rs13 billion agreed between China and Pakistan will help further strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries.

China says Kashmir should be resolved peacefully

During the dialogue, the Pakistani delegation briefed the Chinese side on the situation in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

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”, according to the joint press release, which said “China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation.”

While agreeing to deepen coordination and cooperation to safeguard mutual interests, Pakistan and China reaffirmed their support for multilateralism, free trade and win-win cooperation, and opposition to “unilateralism, protectionism and coercive practices”.

The two sides agreed that Pakistan and China have “set an example for international community” to jointly fight the Covid-19 pandemic and agreed to further strengthen cooperation in developing a vaccine to defeat the virus and strive to promote establishment of China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future and Community of Common Health.

They opposed politicising the pandemic and “labelling viruses” and called on the international community to increase the sense of “a community of shared future”.

The two countries agreed to strengthen cooperation on the Afghan issue and encouraged relevant parties in Afghanistan to seize “this historic opportunity” and commence intra-Afghan negotiations at the earliest.

China also appreciated Pakistan’s contribution to the Afghan peace process and efforts for promoting peace and stability in the region, according to the statement.

The press release emphasised that the China-Pakistan strategic partnership “remains unaffected by the vicissitudes of the regional and international developments and continues to move from strength to strength”.

In a video message released before his departure, Qureshi, who is scheduled to return today (August 21), said he was going on a “very important trip to China” and that he had a discussion with Prime Minister Imran Khan before leaving.

“I am leaving on a very important visit to China. I had a discussion with the prime minister regarding this visit yesterday. My delegation will represent the stance of the political and military leadership of the country. I am hopeful that my meeting with Foreign Minister Wang Yi will prove to be beneficial for both countries,” the foreign minister said.

“The visit will play an important role in further strengthening Pakistan-China ‘All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership’ and deepen strategic communication and coordination with China on a range of issues,” a Foreign Office statement had said.

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