ISLAMABAD: During the maiden four-day visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China, Pakistan and China have signed 15 memoranda of understanding (MOU) to enhance bilateral ties in different fields, including defence, trade, counterterrorism, regional security, health, agriculture, climate change, poverty alleviation, investment, space cooperation and culture.
Although the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf led government was expecting Saudi Arabia-like monetary assistance to overcome prevailing economic crisis, a joint statement issued on Sunday regarding the prime minister’s visit did not mention any ‘immediate relief’ from China.
It has also not been mentioned whether China has decided to resume funding for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor-related infrastructure projects, which was stopped in Nov 2017 when a meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) was told by the Chinese side that the funding would remain suspended till “new guideline” from Beijing.
As a result, work on three main CEPC-related road projects had come to a halt.
After receiving a $6 billion bailout package from Saudi Arabia last month, Prime Minister Khan was also eyeing Chinese investment in different fields. However, the joint statement said nothing on it.
According to joint statement, China offers help in Pakistan’s counterterrorism strategy
During his visit to China, Prime Minister Khan called on Chinese President Xi Jinping and held talks with Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Li Zhanshu and Vice President Wang Qishan on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.
The prime minister also delivered a speech at the Party School run by the Communist Party of China’s central committee.
Besides Beijing, Imran Khan went to Shanghai to visit the First China International Import Expo.
According to the joint statement, the two sides agreed to establish mechanism of China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue and rename the former Strategic Dialogue at Vice Foreign Minister-level to Political Consultations.
The joint statement said Prime Minister Khan and President Xi desired timely completion of on-going projects under the CPEC and joint efforts for realisation of the economic corridor’s full potential with a focus on socio-economic development, job creation and livelihoods and accelerating cooperation in industrial development, industrial parks and agriculture.
“Both sides agreed to task the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee to explore new areas of cooperation. ... It was decided that the eighth session of the JCC will be held in Beijing before the end of the year,” it said.
“To further expand cooperation under CPEC, the two sides announced the setting up of a working group on socio-economic development, to assist with livelihood
projects. They also agreed to discuss the CPEC-related issues, including through China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, Political consultations, and JCC.”
Recognising the significance of Gwadar as an important node in cross-regional connectivity and the central pillar of the CPEC, both sides agreed to speed up progress on the port and its auxiliary projects.
The statement said China agreed to boost Pakistan’s industrial capacity, including through joint ventures, in priority areas and relocation of labour-intensive industry.
The two sides agreed to conclude the second phase of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement as early as possible, and continue discussions on the Pakistan-China Agreement on Trade in Services.
Fight against corruption
Pakistani side recognised China’s unremitting efforts to combat corruption and its great achievements, and evinced interest in learning from the Chinese experience and accomplishments in the field of anti-corruption.
Pakistan and China decided to enhance cooperation against “three evils” of extremism, terrorism and separatism.
“The Chinese side conveyed its support to Pakistan’s commitment and efforts to counter terrorism, assured Pakistan of its support in implementing its counter-terrorism strategy, and commended the tremendous sacrifices made by the Pakistani nation in the fight against terror and the country’s immense contribution to regional and international peace and security through its achievements and successes,” the joint statement said.
China recognised Pakistan’s efforts in actively strengthening financial regulations to combat terrorism financing, and called on all relevant parties to view Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts in an objective and fair manner.
Support for UN reforms
The joint statement said the two sides agreed to support a consensus-based reform of the United Nations so that it responds to the interests and concerns of all member states.
“China appreciates Pakistan’s quest for peace through dialogue, cooperation and negotiation, on the basis of mutual respect and equality, and supports Pakistan’s efforts for improvement of Pakistan-India relations and for settlement of outstanding disputes between the two countries,” it said.
Pakistan supported active participation of China at the platform of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.
The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation on the Afghan issue and support the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process. “China appreciates that Pakistan and Afghanistan are coordinating closely through the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity to enhance cooperation between the two countries in all areas,” the statement added.
Both sides agreed on the importance of China-Afghanistan-Pakistan consultations at the foreign ministers level aimed at deepening trilateral cooperation for shared progress, development and security and for strengthening peace and stability in Afghanistan.”They supported Afghanistan to host the second tripartite foreign ministers dialogue within this year.”
The two sides underlined the importance of peaceful settlement of all disputes in the Middle East on the basis of mutual respect and in accordance with the precepts of international law.
Politicisation of FATF
Recalling the commitments of all states towards implementation of UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions relating to international terrorism, both sides underscored the need for all states to avoid politicisation of the UN sanctions regime and the work of the Financial Action Task Force. They also reiterated the need to evolve the text of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism on the basis of consensus.
Prime Minister Khan expressed appreciation to the leadership and people of China for the warm hospitality accorded to him and his delegation, and invited Chinese leaders to visit Pakistan at a mutually convenient time.
Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2018