Alvi’s visit highlights practical benefits of neighbors’ all-weather friendship

Beijing: Short – just two days – and low-profile as it was, Pakistani President Dr. Arif Alvi’s just-concluded visit to Beijing was loaded with rich symbolism and substance, and will serve bilateral relations well.

For official visits by foreign leaders, timing always matters. But particularly now, as countries all over the world are preoccupied with self-defense amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, and national leaders are, by and large, avoiding international trips, according to an article published by China Daily on Wednesday.

President Alvi was only the third foreign leader to visit Beijing since the outbreak in China attracted global attention, following Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga. Beijing has attached special importance to such visits, viewing them as conveying precious messages of support.

That there is a strong bond between China and Pakistan is indisputable. And economic and trade exchanges have been expanding with more Chinese investment in Pakistan.

Bilateral ties are so good, at both the government-to-government and people-to-people levels, that official statements here refer to Pakistan as an “all-weather friend”, the man on the street calls it “ba tie”, meaning there’s an ironclad bond that could not be better.

At this time of struggle, President Alvi offered valuable moral support to China and expressed appreciation of what it has contributed to the global campaign to contain the ongoing pandemic.

China’s success in containing the domestic spread of the virus has earned time for countries to prepare for their own fight against the virus, and set a fine example and standards for global public health governance, he told the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan before departing for Beijing.

As China realizes control over the outbreak at home, Pakistan is witnessing a continuous rise in infections. How China has responded to the outbreak and what it has learned from it can provide useful insight into Pakistan’s own endeavors to bring the virus under control. And as work and production resume in China, Beijing will be better equipped to provide Pakistan with what it needs.

The series of memorandums signed in Beijing, under the framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, portend a solid step forward in bilateral economic cooperation, which will in turn raise overall relations to a higher level.

That a joint working group for agricultural and scientific and technological collaboration has been set up indicates cooperation surrounding the corridor is at a new stage, one that will see steady expansion.

President Alvi’s visit has therefore not only consolidated the two neighbors’ long-standing friendship, but also delivered practical outcomes that will benefit both.