China-Pakistan relations in context of current economic needs and importance of region

Syed Ali Nawaz Gilani

On the occasion of the 71st anniversary of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China both the nations deserve congratulations. These two brotherly countries have stood by each other at all times. In particular China has not only been heavily involved in Pakistan’s reconstruction projects but also its engineers and workers have sacrificed their lives, for that act of bravery the Pakistani nation is grateful to the people’s of China.
The ideal friendship between China and Pakistan is a threat to their enemies. These forces keep trying to weaken the relations between Pakistan and China by that way but it is not possible because China and Pakistan have proved in every age of difficulty that their friendship is as strong as china wall. Recently Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif telephoned Chinese Minister Li Keqiang. China also expressed its deep regret over the attack on the Confucius Center and vowed that the friendship would be further strengthened in the future.
In a phone call on May 16, Premier Li said that China and Pakistan are friendly neighbors and steel friends. China always prioritizes its relations with Pakistan in its diplomacy with neighboring countries.
According to Prime Minister Li, China is ready to strengthen strategic ties with Pakistan, promote cooperation on major projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and strengthen bilateral staff exchanges to prevent the Corona epidemic. Prime Minister Lee pointed out that the recent attack on Chinese nationals in Karachi has shocked and angered the Chinese people and strongly condemned this terrorist attack.
Prime Minister Lee expressed hope that Pakistan would bring the perpetrators to justice as soon as possible, make every effort to handle the prosecution, reassure the bereaved families and the injured and help Chinese institutions and citizens in Pakistan. Prime Minister Sharif also expressed deep sorrow over the deaths and injuries of Chinese nationals in the Karachi terrorist attack and said that he would strengthen security measures for all Chinese institutions and citizens in Pakistan to prevent such incidents from happening again.
It is true that the friendship between China and Pakistan is not such that a few incidents can weaken it because it has a history of its own. Formal relations were established in 1950 when Pakistan became one of the first countries to end official diplomatic relations with the Dominion of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and recognize the rule of the People’s Republic of China over mainland China. Bilateral relations have grown from the initial Chinese policy of neutrality to a partnership with Pakistan. Their Diplomatic relations were established in 1950, border issues were resolved in 1963, military aid began in 1966, a strategic alliance was formed in 1972, and economic cooperation began in 1979. China has become the third largest supplier of arms to Pakistan and the third largest trading partner.
Maintaining close ties with China is a central part of Pakistan’s foreign policy. In 1986, President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq visited China to improve diplomatic relations, and Pakistan along with Cuba, was one of the two main donors to the People’s Republic of China after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Pakistan has played a key role in bridging the communication gap between the People’s Republic of China and the West by facilitating the historic visit of US President Richard Nixon to China in 1972. It is said that Relations between Pakistan and China have been described as higher than mountains, deeper than seas, stronger than steel, dearer than the light of eyes, sweeter than honey. In terms of Pakistan’s recent support for China, in July 2019, Pakistan was one of the 50 countries in Xinjiang that supported China’s policies, signing a joint letter to the UNHRC on China’s human rights record. Appreciating the remarkable achievements, claimed that security and safety had now returned to Xinjiang and that the human rights of people of all ethnic groups were being protected and that the propaganda against it was false.
In addition, in November 2019, Pakistan was one of the 54 countries that signed the Joint Declaration in support of China’s Xinjiang policies. Supported the National Security Act. Political relations as well as strong military ties between China and Pakistan. This alliance between the two neighboring East Asian countries is geographically important. Strong military ties were also aimed primarily at countering regional Indian and American influence. In recent years, the relationship has been strengthened by ongoing military plans and agreements between Pakistan and China. It accounts for about 47% of arms exports. Since 1962, China has been a reliable source of military equipment for the Pakistani military. The training aircraft includes tailor-made training aircraft for Pakistan Air force. China has designed state-of-the-art tailor-made weapons for Pakistan, making it a strong military power in the South Asian region.
China is the largest investor in Pakistan’s Gwadar Deep Sea Port, located at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz. Both the United States and India see it as a potential launch pad for the Chinese navy, enabling them to launch submarines and warships in the Indian Ocean. China has recently pledged about 43 billion dollars in investment. In 2008, Pakistan purchased military equipment from China for better quality of defense weapons and forces to counter the relentless onslaught of foreign militants.
In the past China has played a key role in developing Pakistan’s nuclear infrastructure, especially as increasingly strict export controls in the West make it difficult for Pakistan to obtain plutonium and uranium enrichment equipment elsewhere. The Chinese help build the Khushab reactor which plays a key role in plutonium production in Pakistan. China has also provided technical and material support for the completion of the Chashma nuclear power complex and plutonium reprocessing facility, which was built in the mid-1990s.
On January 26, 2015, at the end of Raheel Sharif’s two-day visit to Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described Pakistan as China’s “irreplaceable, all-weather friend.” Sharif also met with Yu Zhengsheng, Meng Jianzhu and Xu Qiliang. On April 19, 2015, China concluded the sale of eight conventional submarines worth 5 billion, the largest arms sales by China in its history. The two countries are cooperating in counter-terrorism. China, Pakistan and Afghanistan have cooperated to enhance regional stability. Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that China wants to use Xinjiang as a base for economic development in the region.
Pakistan has been one of China’s major trading partners. Bilateral trade volume exceeded US 20 billion for the first time in calendar year 2017, according to China Customs. In 2017, China’s exports to Pakistan increased by 5.9% to 18.25 billion. Economic trade between Pakistan and China has recently increased and a free trade agreement has signed. Economic relations between the two countries continue to dominate by military and technical transactions and China has promised to increase its investment in Pakistan’s economy and infrastructure. On April 22, 2015, China released its first foreign investment plan under the Belt and Road Initiative for the development of a hydropower station near Jhelum, according to China Daily. When it comes to economic cooperation, the mother of all these projects is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the biggest project of the century and the major project of which is Gwadar Port.
CPEC will connect Pakistan with China and Central Asian countries through the highway connecting Kashgar to Khanjarab and Gwadar. The port of Gwadar in southern Pakistan will serve as a trade nerve hub for China as most of its trade will conduct exclusively through the oil port. Shanghai is the only commercial port in the country that is more than 16,000 kilometers away. The voyage takes two to three months during which time ships are exposed to pirates, bad weather, political rivals and other threats. Instead using the Gwadar port will reduce the distance and potentially cost.
The plan seeks to increase market presence in Chinese businesses Haier in home appliances, China Mobile in telecommunications and Huawei, and in the mining and minerals market already established by China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC). It would not be an overstatement to say that the future of China and Pakistan is link to the CPEC and Belt and Route Initiative project. The CPEC will raise the flag of success all over the world and the economic condition of the people of Pakistan will also be improve with the proud China with zero poverty.