FOREIGN Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi greeting each other with an elbow-to-elbow touch before their meeting.—INP
FOREIGN Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi greeting each other with an elbow-to-elbow touch before their meeting.—INP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China on Friday said they would act “collectively” to protect their mutual interests.

The agreement was reached at the second round of China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue in Hainan, China.

A joint statement issued at the conclusion of the meeting said a consensus was reached on “collectively” taking “measures to safeguard their common interests and promote peace, prosperity and development in the region”.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi led their respective sides at the dialogue in which bilateral ties, regional situation, international developments and the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic were discussed.

The joint communiqué emphasised that Pak-China cooperation, besides serving the mutual interests, was also beneficial for international and regional peace and stability.

Foreign ministers discuss bilateral ties, regional situation and fight against Covid-19 pandemic; Beijing reaffirms support for peaceful resolution of Kashmir conflict

It noted that the two countries were taking forward their cooperation in line with the agreement reached between Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Xi Jinping, which called for enhancing mutual strategic trust, strengthening all-round cooperation, maintaining momentum of high-level exchanges, further advancing construction of Belt and Road Initiative, promoting bilateral relationship to a higher level and delivering greater benefits to both countries and their peoples.

China, during the talks, reaffirmed its support for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir conflict and rejected unilateral actions — a reference to annexation of occupied Jammu and Kashmir by India — saying such moves would complicate the dispute. Kashmir “dispute should be resolved peacefully and properly through the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements”, the Chinese side noted in the statement.

The Pakistani officials briefed the Chinese delegates on the situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, while pointing out their concerns and urgent issues.

“Both sides underlined that a peaceful, stable, cooperative and prosperous South Asia is 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,” read the joint statement.

China announced its continued backing for Pakistan in its efforts for “safeguarding its territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence, independently, choosing a development path based on its national conditions, striving for a better external security environment and playing a more constructive role on international and regional affairs”.

The Pakistani side, in line with its support for ‘One China Policy’, said it stood by China on the issues of Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.

“Both sides agreed on continuing their firm support on issues concerning each other’s core national interests,” the joint statement said.

Although Pakistan, as expected, raised the Kashmir dispute in the talks, it was noticeable from the statement that the Chinese delegation did not allow any direct reference in the statement to its troubles with India along the Line of Actual Control, where the two countries had at the end of June engaged in deadly clashes.

A new element of the dialogue, which is usually focused on political and security issues, was the bilateral cooperation in the fight against Covid-19. “Both sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation in developing a vaccine to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic, and strive to promote establishment of China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future and Community of Common Health,” the statement said.

The two countries are cooperating in clinical trials of a Covid-19 vaccine.

“Both sides emphasised that unity and cooperation are the most powerful weapon for the international community against the disease…opposed politicising the pandemic, labeling viruses; supported WHO to play a leading role in global public health governance, and called for the international” cooperation, the statement said.

On the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Beijing and Islamabad said they had unanimity of view on advancing the construction of the corridor, ensuring in-time completion of the projects under construction and making it a hub of regional connectivity.

The joint statement welcomed the international community to join CPEC construction “on the basis of consensus to achieve shared development”. There was an agreement on convening the 10th meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee, which oversees CPEC projects. The meeting would approve the mega projects agreed by the two sides, including upgrade of railways ML-1.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2020

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