BEIJING: Prime Minister Imran Khan pictured with Chinese President Xi Jinping before their meeting on Sunday.—APP
BEIJING: Prime Minister Imran Khan pictured with Chinese President Xi Jinping before their meeting on Sunday.—APP

• Pakistan, China ask world community to promptly help Afghanistan
• Imran, Xi agree to launch health, industry, trade, green and digital corridors

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday agreed to strengthen institutional links at all levels, cementing mutual strategic, diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries.

While exchanging views on the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, regional situation and international political landscape, the two leaders appreciated the finalisation of a number of agreements and memorandum of understanding in the fields of trade, infrastructure, industrial development, agriculture modernisation, science and technology and socio-economic well-being of local people.

The meeting held at the Great Hall of People was the last leg of PM Khan’s four-day trip to China. During the visit, he attended the opening ceremony of Beijing Winter Olympics and met the Chinese premier, leaders of several countries and chairman of the China’s National Development and Reform Commission. Mr Khan also had detailed discussions with corporate leaders and investors besides attending the luncheon hosted by Mr Xi in the honour of visiting heads of the states.

President Xi and PM Khan met for the first time since October 2019 when the latter visited China.

After completing the tour, the prime minister, along with his delegation, returned to Islamabad.

Later, in a tweet, PM Khan said he had a “great meeting” with the Chinese president. “We agreed to further enhance our strategic and economic relations and to fast track the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” he said.

According to the Prime Minister Office (PMO), Mr Khan and Mr Xi reviewed the entire gamut of Pakistan-China bilateral cooperation and exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest, in a warm and cordial atmosphere.

The two leaders appreciated the signing of a number of agreements covering industrial, space and vaccine cooperation.

Both leaders also acknowledged that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan would promote economic development and connectivity in the region and called on the international community to promptly assist the Afghan people in averting a humanitarian catastrophe.

PM Khan briefed President Xi on people-centered vision of geo-economics and his government’s policies for Pakistan’s sustainable growth and regional connectivity. He lauded China’s continued support to Pakistan’s socio-economic development that had greatly benefitted from the high-quality development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Mr Khan welcomed increased Chinese investments in second phase of CPEC that centered on industrialization and improving people’s livelihoods.

Sharing his views with President Xi on growing polarization in the world that threatened unraveling of global developmental gains and posed serious risks to the developing countries, Mr Khan highlighted that insurmountable challenges of climate change and growing inequalities could only be tackled through unqualified cooperation of all nations in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The PM lauded President Xi’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative and Global Development Initiative (GDI) that called for collective action for sustainable development aimed at win-win outcomes.

The prime minister observed that persecution of minorities in India and the atrocities in India-held Kashmir was a threat to regional peace and stability and pointed out that rapid militarisation of India was undermining regional stability. He noted that partnership between Pakistan and China was an anchor for peace and stability in the region and thanked China for its unwavering support to Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and national development.

While the Chinese side reaffirmed its support for Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and security, as well as promoting its socio-economic development and prosperity, the Pakistani side expressed its commitment to One-China Policy and support for China on Taiwan, South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, according to a joint statement issued on the occasion.

Mr Khan congratulated the leadership and people of China on successful hosting of the Beijing Winter Olympics, extended his best wishes on the Chinese Lunar New Year and renewed his invitation to President Xi to undertake a visit to Pakistan at his early convenience.

The Chinese side appreciated the PM’s launch of the Pakistan-China Business and Investment Forum, and vowed to enhance B2B cooperation between the business sectors of both countries.

Noting close bilateral cooperation in the areas of health, environment and information and communication technology, the two sides agreed to launch the China-Pakistan health, industry, trade, green and digital corridors.

Highlighting the significance of Gwadar as a central pillar of CPEC and important node in regional connectivity, they expressed determination to safeguard CPEC from all threats and negative propaganda. According to the ‘1+4’ layout, the two sides agreed to jointly accelerate the construction and operation of Gwadar Port and build Gwadar low-carbon circular industry zone. They agreed to build high-quality livelihood projects for the socio-economic development of Gwadar city and its residents.

They also decided to expand bilateral trade relations by fully utilizing the second phase of Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement. The Chinese side welcomed more of Pakistan’s high-quality food and agricultural products to the Chinese market.

Hailing the establishment of Pakistan’s pavilions on Chinese e-commerce platforms, the two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in e-commerce, setting up online payment systems and cooperating in logistics, warehousing and customs facilitation.

The two sides agreed to celebrate Pakistan-China Year of Tourism Exchanges in 2023 and to establish strong linkages between the tourism promotion agencies and private enterprises of the two countries. They agreed to make all-out efforts in support of greater civilisational exchanges between Pakistan and China and further expand cooperation for the conservation of heritage. The leaders welcomed the organizing of a Gandhara art exhibition at Palace Museum in Beijing in 2022.

Both sides agreed to continue the momentum in defence cooperation at various levels between the armed forces of Pakistan and China. They underscored that stronger defence and security cooperation between Pakistan and China was an important factor of peace and stability in the region. China recognized Pakistan’s sacrifices and efforts in the fight against terrorism. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

They reiterated that a peaceful and prosperous South Asia was in the common interest of all parties and emphasized the importance of pursuit of dialogue and resolution of all outstanding disputes to promote regional cooperation.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2022

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