Home Global Village FM Joint Press Conference: “Pak-China friendship has political, institutional and popular support”

FM Joint Press Conference: “Pak-China friendship has political, institutional and popular support”


News Analysis |

Addressing a joint news conference along with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Islamabad on Saturday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said,” Pak-China friendship has political, institutional and popular support in both countries”. The joint press conference gave the look of steadfast ties between the two nations.

Pakistan and China have agreed to strengthen bilateral ties and to maintain close communication on regional and global issues. FM Shah Mahmood stated,” Pakistan is eager to collaborate with China on CPEC which is the fastest growing project of One Belt One Road initiative”.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his Chinese counterpart had extended an invitation for the official visit to Prime Minister Imran Khan in November, to participate in an international import-export expo as a Chinese guest.

This move raises concerns for both Pakistan and China. While US-India relations were not hinted upon in the press conference, they will certainly play a major role in future Pak—China ties.

The FM was upbeat when he said that the two nations had made substantive progress on CPEC and reassured the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister that CPEC held immense importance for Pakistan and remained a priority of the government.

In his remarks on the occasion, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described his meeting with Shah Mehmood Qureshi as very positive. He said his country desired to further strengthen strategic partnership with Pakistan. He said,” We will continue cooperation with Pakistan in every field”. Wang Yi said both countries agreed to advance peace in Afghanistan.

Read more: Pakistan, China vow to strengthen strategic cooperation

Shah Mahmood stated that the priorities of the Pakistani government were discussed in the meeting including eradication of poverty, job creation, and rooting out corruption. He also made assurances that security of Chinese Officials was a major government priority.

Shah Mahmood said his Chinese counterpart emphasized that his country fully supported Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against terrorism and acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices. He said Wang Yi also urged the international community to appreciate Pakistan’s role in countering terrorism- which is a global problem.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his Chinese counterpart had extended an invitation for the official visit to Prime Minister Imran Khan in November, to participate in an international import-export expo as a Chinese guest.

Earlier, Delegation-level talks led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi were held at Foreign Office. Bilateral ties, including the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, economic cooperation, cultural and educational exchanges, and regional situation were discussed at the talks.

Foreign Office spokesperson, Dr. Mohammad Faisal said in a tweet that the Chinese foreign minister underscored his country’s firm support to Pakistan’s socio-economic progress and development.

The Joint Conference seemed to have laid to rest fears over the relations of the new Pakistani government with China. Earlier it had been feared that the relations between the new PTI Government would not be so cordial with Beijing. The fears mainly arose from the closeness between the previous PML (N) government and the Chinese as well as apprehensions raised by the PTI over some aspects of the CPEC.

Read more: PM’s Appeal: Pakistanis declare their support

These concerns gained traction over the blacklisting of some Chinese companies by both the Pakistani government and China as well as the lack of transparency in some CPEC projects. Worries in Beijing were compounded with the rise of Mahathir Muhammad in Malaysia. Mahathir at once halted several Chinese projects over corruption allegations and has asked for a reset in relations.

Shah Mahmood said his Chinese counterpart emphasized that his country fully supported Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against terrorism and acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices.

Mahathir, who Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called one of his inspirations, shares the platform of anti-status quo politics with the new Pakistani government. This similarity caused some analysts to designate Imran Khan as part of a new anti-Chinese populist wave in Asia and prophesize the ending of Beijing’s special relationship with Islamabad.

However, the fears began to be allayed with Imran’s first victory speech in which he singled out China as a source of guidance for his policies. He vowed to send teams to learn from China’s poverty reduction among other steps which were welcomed by Chinese papers. Today’s joint conference also seems to have strengthened the perceptions that Pak-China ties will grow.

Read more: Plutocracy and poverty in Pakistan

CPEC seems to be the center point of the ties as Shah Mahmood hailed it as the reflection of the Belt and Road Initiative’s vision. Another marked difference was the joint conference between the two nations as compared to Shah Mahmood’s single conference after meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The US may provide another point of convergence for Pak-China relations especially in reference to the recent 2+2 talks in India. The US has granted New Delhi access to US military information and hardware in order to counter China. This move raises concerns for both Pakistan and China. While US-India relations were not hinted upon in the press conference, they will certainly play a major role in future Pak—China ties.

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