On February 4th, 2022, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan visited China to participate in the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Olympics. During the visit, he met with the Chinese President Xi Jinping and exchanged views on multiple areas of mutual interests. Khan congratulated the Chinese President on the successful holding of the event in a smooth and streamlined manner and emphasized the efficacy of sports as the means of fostering mutual understanding and inclusivity among the people of the world. President Xi Jinping appreciated the Pakistani premiere for participating in the opening ceremony and marked it as a sign of iron brotherhood and solidarity between Pakistan and China.
During the meeting, both leaders reviewed the comprehensive spectrum of bilateral relations and discussed how both countries need to enhance high-level exchanges and institutional linkages. The discussion also included the subject matter of regional situation as well as the international political circumstances. The leaders of both countries mutually accentuated how the time-tested cooperation between Pakistan and China had benefitted the people of both countries and remained unmoved throughout history.
Pakistani side emphasized that the relation of the country with China serves as the bedrock of its foreign policy and the friendship enjoys the unshakeable support of the Pakistani people. Pakistan strongly affirmed that it firmly believed in One-China Policy and would always offer its support to China on Taiwan, the South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet. In response, China manifested its commitment to support Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty as well as promoting its socio-economic development and prosperity.
Imran Khan also invited the Chinese President for a visit to Pakistan
The two sides reaffirmed their intention to undertake the visit at a mutually convenient time. Both sides showed satisfaction over the outcomes of three sessions of the Foreign Minister’s dialogue and also agreed to hold the next meeting at an early time. Khan acknowledged the impacts of CPEC on Pakistan’s economic and social development, also cited Pakistan’s shift from geopolitics to geo-economic agenda and its commitment to promote trade, investment, and connectivity.
Both leaders extensively discussed CPEC and its completed projects. The leaders also showed interest in signing a framework agreement on industrial cooperation and agreed to further leverage the private sectors and entrepreneurs of both countries to contribute to mutual development. The Chinese side also appreciated Khan’s launch of the Pakistan-China Business and Investment Forum, thereby showing a willingness to enhance the business sector of both countries.
Both countries reaffirmed the commitment to safeguarding CPEC and showed a willingness to welcome any third party to benefit from the project. Both sides expressed satisfaction over the post-Covid-19 developments. Pakistan thanked China for an adequate supply of Covid-19 vaccines. Henceforth, both nations agreed to develop emergency response systems, public health infrastructure and pharmaceutical industries in Pakistan to combat any health crisis in the future. Discussions on enhancing the spectrum of education, agriculture, vocational training and cultural exchange between the two countries also took place.
Important points in the discussion
Beijing and Islamabad acknowledged the necessity of a strong defense and security system and vowed to maintain the momentum of defense cooperation between the armed forces. The Pakistani side briefed the Chinese side on the atrocities being committed in Kashmir and China maintained that it had supported the resolution of the Kashmir issue under the UN charter through relevant Security Council resolutions. Both sides extensively discussed the future of Afghanistan and acknowledged that a stable and peaceful Afghanistan was a necessary ingredient for the collective peace of this region. It was also proposed by both countries to invite Afghanistan in a tri-lateral Foreign Ministers Dialogue and underscored the need to expedite humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
Khan also welcomed the Global Development Initiative GDI proposed by President Xi Jinping and stated that Pakistan was willing to further strengthen the development partnership under GDI. Both sides signed a number of MOU’s that covered bilateral cooperation in a number of areas including economic, technical, industrial, investment. Infrastructure, space, vaccine, digitalization, standardization, culture, disaster management, sports and vocational education.
Admittedly, prior to CPEC Pakistan being seen in the prism of terrorism and extremism by the world community, CPEC has greatly changed the perception of the world. Due to CPEC’s image of Pakistan having been improved overwhelmingly, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country has improved since the initiation of CPEC. The growing convergence of interests between China and Pakistan particularly in great power competition between China and the US proves that Islamabad will not abandon Beijing in the lurch.
Dost Muhammad Barrech is a Research Associate at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). He is also a PhD. International Relations (IR) candidate at the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI). The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.