Pakistan and China kick off year-long celebrations to mark 70 years of diplomatic ties

Gwadar Pro

Islamabad: Pakistan and China on Tuesday launched year-long celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic ties.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in an impressive ceremony, formally commenced activities to celebrate 70 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China.

The virtual ceremony was simultaneously held in Islamabad and Beijing and attended by high-ranking officials from both sides including Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong and Pakistani ambassador to China Moinul Haq.

Speaking on the occasion, Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored that, “we pay tribute to the Chinese leadership which has done an incredible job in changing the lives and destiny of its people. We believe that President Xi Jinping’s leadership, at a momentous history, has greatly helped Chinese nation achieve its national aspirations.”

The Foreign Minister added: “Successive generations of leaders and people of both Pakistan and China made invaluable contributions to strengthen these ties.”

The Foreign Minister also reaffirmed that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was set to become a High-Quality Demonstration Project of BRI.

At the ceremony, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi underlined that Pakistan-China friendship had a time-honoured history and in the 7 decades the two countries have stood together in rain or shine, and built an exceptional, iron-clad friendship.

A logo was launched at the ceremony epitomizing historic nature of Pakistan-China ties. On the special occasion of the 70th anniversary, both sides have planned a series of events, including people-to-people exchanges, spread over the entire year to commemorate this historic milestone in a befitting manner.

To mark the historic occasion, Pakistani and Chinese Foreign Ministers authored articles that were published earlier in the day highlighting how the two countries have solidified and deepened their “All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership” over seven decades, despite vicissitudes of times and changes in the international system.

Later, speaking to journalists, FM Qureshi said Pakistan and China will enhance ties in all sectors.

“We are already cooperating. The cooperation will go to new heights in the tears to come,” he added.

Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) released a special video documentary marking celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Pakistan-China long-lasting friendship.

This short video highlights different aspects of Pakistan-China friendship that is higher than Himalayas, deeper than oceans and sweeter than honey.

Pakistan and China enjoy close and friendly relations since the establishment of diplomatic relations in May 1951. Pakistan was one of the first countries that recognized the People’s Republic of China.

Over the years, the relationship has blossomed into an “All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership”. Pakistan considers China as one of its closest friend and partner and China considers Pakistan as its “Iron Brother”.

The bilateral relationship between the two neighboring countries is characterized by feelings of mutual trust, respect and goodwill towards each other. There is a regular exchange of visits at the highest level between the two countries. The strategic cooperation between Pakistan and China has grown over the past several decades.

Economically, China is Pakistan’s largest trading partner and a major investor, especially in infrastructure and energy sector. During 2018, bilateral trade between the two countries reached US$ 18 billion.

With the official launch of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the bilateral relationship has been elevated to a higher level. CPEC is a flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initiative of “One Road and One Belt”.

It aims at enhancing connectivity and improving infrastructure between Pakistan and China. Several projects are being implemented under CPEC, for enhancement of infrastructure and generation of energy. People-to-people contacts are an important aspect of the bilateral relationship.

The year of 2015 was celebrated as the Year of Friendly Exchanges between Pakistan and China and several high profile events were organized including seminars, exchange of visits and cultural events to highlight people-to-people interactions.

Last year, at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pakistani President Dr Arif Alvi visited China from 16-17 March 2020. The President was accompanied by the cabinet members and senior officials.

During the visit, the President met with President Xi Jinping. Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman National People’s Congress, Li Zhanshu, also met President Dr Arif Alvi.

His maiden visit to Beijing was a singular expression of Pakistan’s solidarity with its “iron brother.” The visit was undertaken at a time while China was engaged in a massive national struggle to contain the Covid-19.

Leaders of the two countries took the opportunity to exchange views on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. Both leaders witnessed signing of various Agreements/MoUs during the visit. At the conclusion of the visit, a Joint statement was also issued.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan visited China from October 7-9 2019 at the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. During the visit, the Prime Minister met with President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman NPC Li Zhanshu.

The Prime Minister was a Chief Guest at the Beijing International Horticulture Expo-2019 along-with Premier Li Keqiang. In addition, the Prime Minister also met with CEOs/Heads of leading Chinese enterprises. Both sides signed a number of MoUs/Agreements. It was Prime Minister Imran Khan’s third visit to China since assuming office in August 2018.

Prime Minister Khan also visited China from April 25-28, 2019 to participate in the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

In his first visit as the PM, Imran Khan had paid official visit to China on November 2-5, 2018. In Beijing, he had met with President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, Chairman Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), Li Zhanshu and Vice President Wang Qishan.

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan also visited Pakistan from May 26-28, 2019. He called on the President and held bilateral talks with the Prime Minister. During the visit, the Nishan-e-Pakistan award was conferred upon the Vice President in a special investiture ceremony.

Moreover, several Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and projects were signed and inaugurated. The Vice President also visited Lahore, where he met with Chief Minister Punjab and Governor Punjab. The Vice President also toured Pakistan’s cultural sites, including Taxila Museum, Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque.

Previously, then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif paid an official visit to Zhengzhou from December 14-15, 2015, to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit. During the visit, he met with Premier Li Keqiang. President Mamnoon Hussain visited Wuzhen from December 16-18, 2015, to participate in the 2nd World Internet Conference. During the visit he met with President Xi Jinping on 16 December.

On the invitation of Chinese leadership, then President Mamnoon Hussain also paid an official visit to China from September 1-4, 2015, to participate in the commemoration ceremony of the 70th Anniversary of China’s victory in World War II. During the visit, delegation level talks were held with President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had paid a historic State visit to Pakistan from April 20-21, 2015. During the visit, it was agreed to intensify cooperation under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. China pledged to invest US$46 billion in Pakistan’s energy and infrastructure sectors in Pakistan. President Xi was also awarded Pakistan’s highest civil award of ‘Nishan-e- Pakistan’ during the visit.

On the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif paid an official visit to Beijing from November 7-8 2014 to participate in the “Dialogue on Strengthening Connectivity Partnership” during the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.

Nawaz Sharif endorsed President Xi’s vision on regional connectivity and infrastructure development, stressing that Asia would need to strengthen both to excel in international arena.

Then President Mamnoon Hussain visited Shanghai from May 19-22, 2014, to attend the 4th Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). Pakistan’s participation in the CICA Summit at the highest political level sealed its endorsement of the vision of Asian collective security based on cooperation and dialogue.

He also paid an official visit to China from February 18-21 2014. The second Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting on Economic Corridor Project (ECP) was held on the sidelines of the President’s visit.

Then Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif paid an official visit to China from July 3-8, 2013. This was his first overseas visit after assuming office in June 2013. During the visit, the two sides concluded the MoU on CPEC.

Premier Li Keqiang paid an official visit to Pakistan from May 22-23, 2013. It was the first visit of Premier Li Keqiang abroad after assuming office.

From Pakistan side, the other recent high-level exchanges include the meeting of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi with State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, in August 2019 and on the sidelines of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers in May 2019.

Earlier, the Foreign Minister had met with Wang Yi when he visited Beijing in March 2019 for the first session of Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue and later when he was in Beijing for the 2nd Belt and Road Forum in April 2019.

The Foreign Minister also participated in Political Parties’ Dialogue between PTI and CPC and Political Parties Forum on CPEC. He also met Vice President Wang Qishan and Minister for IDCPC, Mr. Song Tao. Foreign Minister had earlier visited Beijing on December 25, 2018.

Other ministers and senior officials continue to exchange visits to further strengthen the already rock-solid friendship. At 70, the Pakistan-China diplomatic relations are exemplary and going strong.