BEIJING: Pakistan and China have reaffirmed their resolve to “further deepen strategic communication and strengthen all-weather cooperation” aimed at building a community of shared future in the new era, as Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged views on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues during their meeting on Wednesday.
At the meeting held at the People’s Great Hall of China, the Chinese president extended Beijing’s “unwavering support to Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Recalling the Joint Statement of Nov 4, 2018, which outlined the important consensus between Pakistan and China, the two sides reaffirmed their support on issues concerning each other’s core interests.
The Chinese president, who is scheduled to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chennai later this week, told Mr Khan that he was watching the situation in Kashmir very closely and would support Pakistan “on all issues of its core national interest”. The Chinese leadership said the Kashmir issue was a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. “China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation. The two sides underlined that a peaceful, stable, cooperative and prosperous South Asia was in common interest of all parties. Parties need to settle disputes and issues in the region through dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual respect,” said a statement issued by the PM Office following the meeting.
Tensions over Kashmir have risen sharply since Aug 5 when New Delhi revoked the autonomy of the disputed region and imposed a curfew.
Beijing offers support on Kashmir, other core issues; Islamabad terms Hong Kong affairs China’s internal matter
Mr Khan discussed the continued lockdown of millions of Kashmiris for more than two months that created a dire humanitarian situation in the Valley and stressed the urgency for lifting of curfew in India-held Kashmir to alleviate the sufferings of the Kashmiris and to avert risks to regional peace and security.
As the Chinese leadership reiterated solidarity with Pakistan in safeguarding its territorial sovereignty, independence and security, the Pakistan side reaffirmed its commitment to the One-China Policy. “Supporting One Country Two Systems”, Pakistan reiterated that affairs of Hong Kong were China’s internal matter and all countries should uphold international law and basic norms of non-interference in internal affairs of other countries.
On Afghanistan, the two sides reaffirmed that there was no military solution to the situation and expressed the resolve to continue to support peace and reconciliation process. They agreed that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan would promote economic development and connectivity in the region. Both sides also expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the Third China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue held in Islamabad on Sept 7. “An inclusive, and Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process” would be the key for peace and stability in the country, the two sides maintained.
About the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Prime Minister Khan told President Xi that Pakistan had established CPEC Authority to oversee the expeditious implementation of projects. He said the visionary Belt and Road Initiative would play a transformational role in accelerating Pakistan’s economic development and promoting regional connectivity and prosperity.
Mr Khan said Pakistan had come out of the difficult economic situation. “We will never forget China’s financial cooperation in this regard,” he said, adding that China had never asked anything in return for supporting Pakistan’s national interest as it extended unconditional help to the country.
Lauding Pakistan’s efforts to expeditiously execute CPEC projects, President Xi stressed that it would help national and regional economic development process. He appreciated Islamabad’s efforts in combating terrorism and maintained that Pakistan through institutional and economic reforms was resolutely and promisingly on the way to substantial economic development.
The two sides agreed that early implementation of the second phase of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement would contribute to increase in bilateral trade. They agreed to take full advantage of the China-Pakistan Joint Economic and Trade Commission (CPJETC) to achieve balanced and sustainable development of bilateral economic and trade cooperation. They maintained that the ninth session of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) to be held in November in Islamabad would fast-track implementation of the ongoing projects and explore new avenues of cooperation. The two sides underlined that Chinese investment in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and collaboration in SME sector would further expand Pakistan’s industrial base and diversify its export base.
They agreed to jointly study the projects identified by Pakistan in power, petroleum, gas, agriculture, industrial and infrastructure sectors. Those projects were entrusted to the relevant Joint Working Groups (JWGs) for deliberation and subsequent consideration by the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) next month.
The two sides exchanged views on cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, finance, defence and security, education, agriculture, social sector, people-to-people contact and cultural linkages.
They reaffirmed their commitment to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and called on all countries to strengthen international cooperation on counterterrorism. China appreciated Pakistan’s unrelenting efforts and tremendous sacrifices in countering terrorism. It supported Pakistan in implementing its National Action Plan and called on the international community to recognise Pakistan’s contributions to regional peace and security through its success in fight against terrorism.
Both sides expressed satisfaction over the close cooperation between the two countries at multilateral fora and resolved to deepen strategic coordination and consultation. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and support for multilateralism and win-win cooperation.
Later, the Chinese president hosted lunch in honour of Pakistan’s premier, who was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Khusro Bakhtyar, Minister of Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Commerce Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood, PM’s Special Assistant on Petroleum Nadeem Babar and Chairman of the Board of Investment Zubair Gilani, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and senior officials.
Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2019