Expressing strong determination to safeguard CPEC from all threats and negative propaganda, Pakistan and China have agreed to task the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) to strengthen cooperation across all areas including in the fields of trade, infrastructure, industrial development, agriculture modernization, scientific and technological cooperation and socio-economic wellbeing of local people.
The commitment was made during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing from 3 to 6 February 2022 to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games 2022.
At the conclusion of the visit, a joint statement was issued on Sunday both in Islamabad and Beijing, in which Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to making all-out efforts for the security of all Chinese personnel, projects and institutions in Pakistan and the Chinese side expressed its appreciation for the measures taken by Pakistan in this regard.
During the visit, the Prime Minister held talks with President Xi Jinping, and Premier Li Keqiang. During their interactions, the leaders of the two countries held in-depth exchange of views on the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, as well as, regional situation and international political landscape.
“The meetings were marked by traditional warmth, strategic mutual trust and commonality of views that characterize the Pakistan-China All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership,” according to the joint communiqué.
The leaders reaffirmed that close strategic ties and deep-rooted friendship between Pakistan and China are time-tested and timeless. The bilateral relationship served the interest of both countries and was the historic choice of both peoples.
The Pakistan side underscored that Pakistan-China relationship is the cornerstone of its foreign policy and that closest friendship with China enjoys the abiding support of the people of Pakistan.
Both sides reiterated their support on issues concerning each other’s core interests. The Pakistan side expressed its commitment to One-China Policy and support for China on Taiwan, South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet. 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.
Both sides reviewed with satisfaction the outcome of three sessions of Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue and agreed to hold its next meeting at an early time.
Commending President Xi’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Prime Minister Imran Khan underscored that as the flagship project of BRI, CPEC has significantly contributed to Pakistan’s economic and social development, in line with its shift to geo-economics and the economic security agenda of promoting trade, investments, and connectivity.
Both sides acknowledged the major contribution of CPEC projects, particularly in the areas of energy and transport infrastructure, in strengthening Pakistan’s key role in regional connectivity while modernizing its economic base.
“The leaders reaffirmed their support to CPEC’s high-quality development and the commitment to ensuring the smooth operation of completed projects and the timely completion of projects under construction,” according to the statement.
It added that the leaders took note of the signing of a Framework Agreement on Industrial Cooperation and agreed to further leverage the private sectors and entrepreneurs of both countries to contribute to Pakistan’s industrialization in an all round way.
The Chinese side appreciated the Prime Minister’s launch of the Pakistan-China Business and Investment Forum, and will enhance B2B cooperation between the business sectors of both countries.
The leaders agreed to task the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) to strengthen cooperation across all areas including in the fields of trade, infrastructure, industrial development, agriculture modernization, scientific and technological cooperation and socioeconomic wellbeing of local people. Noting close bilateral cooperation in the areas of health, environment and ICT, the two sides agreed to launch the China-Pakistan health, industry, trade, green and digital corridors.
The two sides highlighted the significance of Gwadar as a central pillar of CPEC and important node in regional connectivity. 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 socioeconomic development of Gwadar city and its residents.
Both sides expressed their strong determination to safeguard CPEC from all threats and negative propaganda. Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to making all-out efforts for the security of all Chinese personnel, projects and institutions in Pakistan and the Chinese side expressed its appreciation for the measures taken by Pakistan in this regard.
Both sides observed that CPEC was a win-win enterprise and pivotal for regional prosperity and enhanced connectivity. As an open and inclusive initiative, third parties were welcome to benefit from investment opportunities in CPEC SEZs.
The two sides reviewed with satisfaction bilateral cooperation and mutual support after the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked Chinese leadership for provision of Covid-19 vaccines to Pakistan which have been a mainstay of national mass vaccination drive.
Both leaders agreed that their mutual support, cooperation and solidarity amidst the Covid-19 pandemic was in keeping with the time-honoured traditions of Pakistan-China friendship and that both sides would continue supporting efforts to overcome the pandemic.
The two sides reaffirmed their resolve to continue and enhance their existing cooperation for developing emergency response systems, public health infrastructure and joint ventures for development of pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan to tackle similar challenges in future.
The two sides noted with satisfaction the record increase in bilateral trade volume in 2021. They agreed to further consolidate and expand bilateral trade relations by fully utilizing the 2nd Phase of Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement. The Chinese side welcomes more of Pakistan’s high-quality food and agricultural products to the Chinese market.
Welcoming the establishment of Pakistan’s pavilions on Chinese e-commerce platforms, the two sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation in e-commerce, setting up online payment systems and cooperating in logistics, warehousing and customs facilitation.
The two sides noted with satisfaction the successful holding of the 15th Session of Pakistan-China Joint Committee on Economic, Trade, Scientific and Technical Cooperation in December 2021. They agreed to leverage this important mechanism to further enhance overall bilateral economic engagement between the two countries.
The Pakistan side appreciated China’s unrivalled achievement of lifting 770 million people out of absolute poverty and wished the Chinese Government and people greater success in achieving the goals of socialist modernization and national rejuvenation. The Chinese side appreciated Pakistan’s Ehsaas Programme for poverty alleviation and reiterated its resolve to support Pakistan for infrastructure development in several fields including agriculture, education, health, safe drinking water and vocational training.
Both sides noted with satisfaction robust cooperation between Pakistan and China in education sector, and committed to further enhance cooperation between the educational institutions of the two countries. Pakistan side highlighted that China has become a popular education destination. While ensuring safety against COVID-19, China will arrange for Pakistani students to return to China and resume classes in a prudent manner.
Both sides reiterated the importance of people-to-people contacts, tourism cooperation and cultural exchanges for strong bilateral relations. Building on the MoU on Tourism Exchanges and Cooperation signed in November last year, 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. The two sides agreed to make all possible efforts in support of greater civilizational exchanges between Pakistan and China and further expand cooperation for the conservation and presentation of heritage and artefacts of the two countries. 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.
Both sides reiterated that a peaceful and prosperous South Asia is in the common interest of all parties. They emphasized the importance of pursuit of dialogue and resolution of all outstanding disputes to promote regional cooperation and advance the goals of lasting peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region.
The Pakistan side briefed the Chinese side on the latest developments on the situation in Jammu & Kashmir, including its concerns, position and pressing issues at the moment. The Chinese side reiterated that the Kashmir issue was a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation.
On Afghanistan, the two sides agreed that a peaceful, stable, united, safe, and secure Afghanistan is fundamental for prosperity and progress in the region. They expressed satisfaction with the outcome of two Foreign Ministers’ meetings of the six neighbouring countries on Afghanistan and looked forward to its next meeting to be held in China. They are ready to discuss with Afghanistan the holding of the China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue.
The two sides underscored the need to expedite humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and its people to avert the looming crisis and called upon the international community to provide continued and enhanced assistance and support to Afghanistan including through unfreezing of Afghanistan’s financial assets.
The two sides are ready to discuss with Afghanistan the extension of CPEC to Afghanistan. The Chinese side appreciated Pakistan for hosting the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers on Afghanistan on 19 December 2021. The two sides agreed to continue their close cooperation on Afghanistan in the future.
Both sides expressed satisfaction over the close cooperation at multilateral fora and resolved to further deepen strategic coordination, consultation and communication. They reaffirmed their commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and support for multilateralism and win-win cooperation.
Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed and reiterated support for the Global Development Initiative (GDI) proposed by President Xi Jinping, which aims to promote international cooperation and accelerate the implementation of UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening development partnership under the GDI.
Prime Minister Khan thanked the leadership and people of China for the warm and generous hospitality accorded to him and expressed his best wishes for China’s continued development and prosperity.
The two sides signed or concluded a number of agreements/ MoUs, covering bilateral cooperation in areas of economic and technical, industry, investment, infrastructure, space, vaccine, digitalization, standardization, disaster management, culture, sports and vocational education.
On behalf of Pakistan, the Prime Minister reiterated his invitation to President Xi Jinping to pay a state visit to Pakistan and stated that the people of Pakistan looked forward to welcoming him at an early date. The two sides reaffirmed their intention to undertake the visit at a mutually convenient time.
The leadership from both sides was pleased to observe that the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations celebrated last year marked an important milestone in the diplomatic history of the two countries. Taking note of more than 140 celebratory activities organized by the two countries, both sides agreed that the celebrations had reinvigorated the friendship between the peoples of Pakistan and China with indelible impressions to inspire future generations.
Reiterating his felicitations on the centenary of the Communist Party of China, Prime Minister Imran Khan lauded the role of CPC leadership with President Xi Jinping at its core for China’s growth and prosperity and appreciated President Xi for his personal contribution to promoting the enduring Pakistan-China partnership.
The Prime Minister appreciated the Chinese Government for excellent and meticulous arrangements and congratulated China for hosting the games in a streamlined, safe and splendid manner.
The two sides agreed that Olympic Games were a global event that fostered mutual understanding, inclusivity and friendship among the peoples of the world. The Chinese leadership appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan’s participation in the Winter Olympic Games as a mark of iron brotherhood and solidarity between Pakistan and China. Both sides agreed to maintain high-level exchanges and strengthen institutional linkages at all levels.
This report was first published in Business Recorder on Feb 7, 2022.