BEIJING: Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.—X / @ForeignOfficePk
BEIJING: Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.—X / @ForeignOfficePk

BEIJING: China is ready to work with Pakistan to develop an “upgraded version” of the China-Pakis­tan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Pakistani counterpart on Wednesday.

In talks with Ishaq Dar, Pakistan’s new deputy prime minister, Wang hailed the “ironclad” relationship between the neighbouring countries and pledged to advance CPEC, the South China Morning Post reported.

“Both sides should effectively implement the Framework Agreement on Industrial Cooperation, strengthening our cooperation in areas like industry, agriculture, mining, new energy and information technology,” Mr Yi said, citing a pact signed by the two nations in 2022, according to a Chinese foreign ministry readout.

Both men co-chaired the fifth round of China- Pakistan Strategic Dia­logue, the Foreign Office said in a statement. Accor­ding to the Associated Press of Pakistan, the deputy prime minister described relations with China as the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

He also highlighted the threats posed to regional peace and security due to India’s illegal occupation of the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir, and appreciated China’s principled stance on the dispute.

Mr Yi also hosted a lunch in honour of the deputy prime minister Dar, the Foreign Office said.

Both Mr Yi and Executive Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang, who also met Mr Dar on Wednesday, called on Islamabad to ensure the safety and security of Chinese workers and investments in the country.

The Chinese foreign minister said that Bejing hoped “Pakistan will do its best to safeguard Chinese personnel in Pakistan and ensure the security of Chinese businesses and projects so they may continue their work in Pakistan without concern”.

“China’s determination to deepen cooperation with Pakistan will not waver,” Anadolu Agency quoted Mr Yi as saying.

“At the same time,” Mr Yi told Deputy PM Dar, “it is hoped that Pakistan will continue to make every effort to … eliminate the worries of Chinese enterprises and personnel.”

He also called for further deepening of counterterrorism security cooperation between the two countries.

In response, Mr Dar pledged greater efforts to apprehend the perpetrators of the March attack and to enforce the law to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals and projects in Pakistan. He also called for the international community to unite in a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of terrorism.

The two discussed the global economy and developments in the Middle East during the meeting, according to the Chinese readout.

During his meeting with Chinese Vice-Premier Ding Xuexiang, Mr Dar expressed condolences over the Shangla attack of March 26, assuring zero tolerance for the perpetrators of such crimes.

According to state broadcaster CCTV, Mr Xuexiang said during the meeting that China was willing to maintain high-level strategic communication with Pakistan and to ensure the CPEC’s development was “high quality”.

As per an FO statement, the two noted progress made by CPEC in the realms of energy and infrastructure, and expressed confidence over the positive dividends under phase two of the project in the fields of industry, agriculture and mineral development.

The two discussed connectivity through the Khunjerab border crossing and a simplified visa regime.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2024

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