China, Pakistan to strengthen defence ties

Dec 17 2004


BEIJING, Dec 16: China assured Pakistan on Thursday of greater defence cooperation, especially in the supply of military hardware. Briefing newsmen on his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People , Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said he also had an important meeting with the Chinese defence minister.

"Traditionally, there has been great cooperation between Pakistan and China in the defence sector. My meeting with the defence minister was also in the same direction. But, significantly, President Hu expressed the desire to further strengthen the defence ties, which already benefit all the armed forces - the army, the navy and the air force - of Pakistan," he said.

When asked if he had obtained a commitment from the Chinese president that Beijing would not let India get a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, the prime minister said: "I informed Mr Hu about my views on UN reforms.

I maintain that the UN reforms should not be carried out in a cherry-picking manner. And let me tell you that Mr Hu was in complete agreement with me on this issue. He also said that the United Nations should be reformed in a democratic manner."

When pressed to comment on China's stand on the expansion of the UN Security Council in relation to India, he said: "I cannot disclose what commitment the Chinese side made on the issue."

Mr Aziz disagreed with a reporter that fast growing economic relationship between New Delhi and Beijing was a cause for concern for Pakistan. "No, I don't think so. It is a free world. And we are not worried about the fact that the trade volume between India and China is nearly four times greater than Islamabad's trade with Beijing.

India, after all, is nearly ten times bigger than us in terms of population. Besides, China's investment in Pakistan currently stands at $4 billion. And at least 114 Chinese projects are currently under way in Pakistan," he said.

Mr Aziz said: "I informed President Hu about the ongoing peace talks between India and Pakistan. I conceded that China helped Pakistan when it was most vulnerable in the economic and defence sectors. China's much-needed assistance made the peace process between New Delhi and Islamabad possible. It also stabilized the region.

"And let me state this clearly that the present Sino-Pakistan ties are a win-win option for both countries. We have not come to China with a begging bowl. And this was appreciated by President Hu who said that he was impressed by the fact that a large number of chief executives of various Chinese companies met me and discussed their investment plans with me.

This, Mr Hu said, indicated that Chinese businessmen were really interested in taking investment to Pakistan. He also called my visit to China very successful," Mr Aziz said.

The prime minister said he had informed the Chinese president about the political situation in South Asia. "I told him that Pakistan has the potential of becoming an anchor of stability in South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East if the economic and defence ties between Pakistan and China continue to grow," he said.

The prime minister also met Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Jia Qinglin at the Great Hall of the People. "Various trade and economic projects which had come under discussion during my meeting with the Premier of the State Council, Wen Jiabao, were reviewed.

For instance, we discussed the Thar coal project. We also talked about the Saindak Gold and Copper Project. Mr Jia Qinglin and I agreed on enhancing people-to-people contact between Pakistan and China. We also fine-tuned the student exchange visit programme," he said.

Mr Aziz was upbeat about his meeting with the Vice-Premier of the State Council, Ms Wu Yi, who, he said, was in-charge of all economic projects undertaken by China.

"Our meeting was most fruitful and covered a whole range of economic and trade issues. We were both delighted to see a 30 per cent rise in exports from China to Pakistan. Two-way trade between China and Pakistan from January to October 2004 stands at $2.14 billion.

We talked about the food processing industry in Pakistan. I assured her that we would set an exclusive economic zone for China. But I also advised the Chinese side to export capital apart from goods," the prime minister said.

"Their surpluses are huge and they can easily do this. I also suggested the opening of bank branches in China and her response was positive. We also signed an initial agreement on the quarantine and pest control of the rice crop," he added.

VISIT TO TSINGHUA UNIVERSITY: Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Aziz poured scorn on the so-called doctrine of pre-emption in a lecture he delivered at the Tsinghua University. He also lent support to the beleaguered United Nations.

"Today the world is dominated by the only superpower wielding unprecedented military and economic strength. Tendencies of unilateral action, assertion of doctrine of pre-emption and indifference to multi-lateralism are trends that undermine the UN Charter.

They must be firmly discouraged. Deviation from UN principles would be a recipe for anarchy and lawlessness. The experience of Iraq demonstrates the importance of multi-lateral approach that must be strengthened respecting the political primacy of the United States.

Major countries, including China, that are often seen as the emerging centres of global power have a responsibility in this regard," he said. Mr Aziz also called for an equitable and just economic order. "The phenomenon of globalization must be directed to the greater benefit of all regions of the world.

No country or region must suffer international indifference and neglect. Failure to share prosperity can become costly. And at the same time, developing countries should demonstrate good governance and transparency so as to leverage their full potential," he said.

Late in the evening, Prime Minister Aziz flew to the Chinese port city of Shanghai to attend a business conference and lay the foundation stone of the consulate general of Pakistan.

On Friday the prime minister will hold talks with 10 top chief executives of China at a meeting arranged by the chairman of the Chinese Confederation of Enterprises, Chen Jinhua.