ISLAMABAD: Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan opened his three-day visit to Islamabad on Sunday by recalling the strength of the bilateral relationship and expressing the resolve that Pakistan and China would continue to safeguard each other’s interests.
On the first day of the trip, VP Wang inaugurated a number of projects along with Prime Minister Imran Khan and the two leaders witnessed signing of several agreements.
Soon after his arrival at Chaklala airbase, VP Wang spoke at a meeting of “Friends of Silk Road” hosted by the Pakistan-China Institute.
Lahore-Matiari transmission line and Rashakai Special Economic Zone projects inaugurated
“No matter how the international landscape changes, China and Pakistan will always stay iron brothers that trust and support each other,” he told the political leaders, opinion makers and representatives of think tanks, who had come to attend the forum which, organisers say, links communities, academia, media and think tanks.
Recalling Pakistan’s support for China at “critical moments”, Mr Wang said Beijing too had always supported Pakistan on its “core interests”.
He said the world was passing through a time of “major development, transformation, and adjustment”. The situation, he emphasised, had been further complicated by traditional and non-traditional challenges and conflict between opposing schools of thought and culture.
Mr Wang said China and Pakistan were all-weather strategic partners which would cooperate with each other for development and that their joint undertaking China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a manifestation of those collaborative relations.
He noted the political and public support for the CPEC in both Pakistan and China. “CPEC is a consensus that transcends political parties, regions and communities across Pakistan. It also enjoys the most extensive and strongest support in China,” he maintained.
Beijing had hosted the first meeting of the Political Parties Forum on the CPEC, which was participated by 10 major political parties from Pakistan. The meeting had concluded with the Beijing Declaration, in which all the participating parties reiterated their support for the CPEC, agreed to further enhance intra-party exchanges, discussions and cooperation and rejected negative propaganda against the project.
Sharing his assessment of the progress on the CPEC and the recently launched second phase, the Chinese leader observed: “CPEC has come a long way over the past five years… CPEC is rapidly extending to new priority areas including industrial parks and livelihoods.
“CPEC will produce new outcomes and lend new impetus to economic and social development of Pakistan and economic integration of the region,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani called for strengthening people-to-people relations alongside the linkages and infrastructure the two countries were developing.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan-China friendship was anchored in mutual interests, goals, values, desire for peace and prosperity and shared experiences. He hoped that the ties would become stronger with the passage of time.
Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mushahid Hussain, who also heads the Pakistan-China Institute, said the presence of political leaders from all parties and provinces in this gathering was an affirmation of the consensus enjoyed by the CPEC across the board since it was a guarantor of a better tomorrow for Pakistan and its people.
Senator Hussain also congratulated Vice President Wang on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Recollecting Chinese achievements over the past seven decades, he said 750 million people were taken out of poverty, a model foreign policy of non- interference in internal affairs of other countries was pursued and cultural connectivity was promoted.
He said Pakistan rejected any notion of “clash of civilisations” or a return to a Cold War mentality.
VP Wang later called on Prime Minister Imran Khan. The two leaders after their talks witnessed the signing of a number of agreements.
The agreements signed by the two sides, according to the PM Office, included the framework agreement on agricultural cooperation, the memorandum on the requirements of foot and mouth disease-free zone; the letter of exchange of disaster relief goods, China-Pakistan economic agreement and the agreement between the China Machinery Engineering Corporation and the Balochistan government and Lasbela University on modern agriculture comprehensive development in Lasbela.
On the occasion, different projects were inaugurated, including 660KV transmission line project from Matiari to Lahore, Rashakai Special Economic Zone Project, Huawei Technical Support Centre and Confucius Institute at University of Punjab.
Earlier in the talks, PM Khan reiterated Pakistan’s “unwavering commitment” to the CPEC and stressed the importance of further deepening bilateral economic and commercial interaction, industrial collaboration and China’s investment in Pakistan’s special economic zones.
Vice President Wang expressed satisfaction at the increasing momentum of bilateral engagement between the two countries.
The two sides also exchanged views on the regional situation, including recent developments in South Asia.
President Dr Arif Alvi conferred Nishan-e-Pakistan, the highest civil award of the country, on Vice President Wang to recognise his services in promoting Pak-China ties, adds APP.
The award was conferred at a special investiture ceremony held at the President House and attended by the Senate chairman, services chiefs, members of the federal cabinet, parliamentarians and diplomats.
Earlier on his arrival at Nur Khan Air Base, Vice President Wang was accorded red carpet welcome and received by Foreign Minister Qureshi and Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiar.
Clad in traditional dresses, two children presented a bouquet to Mr Wang.
Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2019