President Alvi’s visit to China solidifies longstanding friendship: Chinese Experts

Beijing: President Dr Arif Alvi’s visit to China at a time when many countries around the world trying to cope with the spread of the novel coronavirus indicated the long-held friendship between the two countries won’t be held back by the pandemic.

“China and Pakistan are good friends, partners, neighbors, and siblings that stand together through storms and stress.

Their relationship is called an all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, in which “all-weather” means frequent visits under any condition are normal,” Qian Feng, senior fellow of Taihe Institute, director of research department of National Strategy Institute of Tsinghua University told Global Times while commenting on the outcome of the visit.

He said that President Alvi’s visit during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic mirrored Pakistan’s firm support of the Chinese people. At the early stage of the coronavirus outbreak in China, Pakistan offered medical supplies even as it was confronting a sluggish economy and a lack of reserves for its own use.

This visit by Pakistan’s president also reflected Islamabad’s positive affirmation of China’s achievements in epidemic prevention and control, and its diplomatic support toward Beijing, he added.

Qian Feng said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was the top agenda item between the two countries. “CPEC is a benchmark project under the framework of China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and has yielded fruitful results after years of joint efforts.

Beijing and Islamabad have been considering how to promote CPEC projects to better serve local communities and people’s livelihood.”

He said the pandemic had to some extent influenced CPEC. Yet the impact had been limited, because the two countries had already laid a solid foundation for collaboration and visible achievements had been made.

“The virus could cause CPEC projects to slow but they have not stopped. Since the two sides are aiming to forge a closer China-Pakistan community of a shared future, CPEC is a long-term program and won’t be hard hit by any temporary obstacle,” he added

Another expert, Zhao Gancheng, research fellow at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies said that as the novel coronavirus continued to spread globally, South Asia remained relatively less affected.

“Yet no one can be sure how long the current situation can be maintained as the region is significantly short of medical resources. For Pakistan, this might be a serious situation and it needs to consult with China,” he added.

He said that the contradiction between Pakistan and India over Kashmir was an important issue that hasn’t been settled. Pakistan was hoping India would make some adjustments considering the international pressure it received for revoking the autonomy of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir last year.

“There seems to be few signs this will happen anytime soon. Pakistan sees this as a crisis and likely wants to consult with China on the matter,” he added.

Zhao Gancheng said that Islamabad was also yearning for more investment from Beijing. Since China began to see promising outcomes from its COVID-19 prevention and control, Pakistan wass hoping to further promote the construction of CPEC, which was of vital importance to Pakistan’s economic development.

He said that CPEC was a long-term initiative under the framework of the BRI, which by no means would be severely impacted by any temporary challenge, including the pandemic.

“China is now slowly resuming economic activities, and if new CPEC projects can be initiated, they would play a significant role in China’s foreign strategy in the post-pandemic era,” he added.