Pakistan and China established diplomatic relations on 21 May 1951. This relationship has built on the strength of its successive achievements and has become formidable with each passing day and year. The leadership of both countries is committed to taking this relationship forward.Pakistan and China enjoy close and friendly relations since the establishment of diplomatic relations in May 1951. Pakistan was one of the first countries that recognize the People Republic of China. Over the years, the relationship has blossomed into an & All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership. Pakistan considers China as one of its closest friends and partners and China considers Pakistan as its Iron Brother.The bilateral relationship between the two neighboring countries is characterized by feelings of mutual trust, respect, and goodwill towards each other. There is a regular exchange of visits at the highest level between the two countries. Strategic cooperation between Pakistan and China has grown over the past several decades.Economically, China is Pakistan’s largest trading partner and a major investor, especially in infrastructure and energy sector. With the official launch of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the bilateral relationship has been elevated to a higher level. CPEC is a flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initiative of “One Road and One Belt”. It aims at enhancing connectivity and improving infrastructure between Pakistan and China. Several projects are being implemented under CPEC, for the enhancement of infrastructure and generation of energy. People-to-people contacts are an important aspect of the bilateral relationship.
Pakistan and China have several Consultations mechanisms including Strategic Dialogue at Foreign Ministers’ level, Political Consultations at Foreign Secretary/Vice-Minister level; consultations on South Asia, Arms Control, Counter-terrorism; Human Rights; Peacekeeping; Maritime Dialogue; Border management consultations, and Consular affairs.
Pakistan and China have robust defence collaboration. The cooperation spans high-level military exchanges, structured defence and security talks, joint exercises, training of personnel in each other’s institutions, joint defence production and defence trade. The militaries of the two countries have institutionalized three tiers of bilateral consultations to enable close cooperation at all levels. There is an extensive range of cooperation, including joint ventures, for the production of military equipment, aircraft, submarines, and tanks. China is also the recipient of the largest number of military training officials from Pakistan.
China is Pakistan’s largest single trading partner; while Pakistan is China’s second-largest trading partner in South Asia. Major imports from China include machinery and mechanical appliances, metals, chemical products, mineral ores, plastic scrap, and transport equipment. Main exports include cotton yarn, cotton fabric, rice, leather and fish products.In recent years, the bilateral trade volume between China and Pakistan has increased rapidly with a stable commodity structure. However, despite robust investment from China, bilateral trade remains anemic. China’s imports from Pakistan reflect a downward trend whereas China’s exports to Pakistan are on an upward trajectory. Bilateral trade, which stood at US$ 1.3 billion in 2002, reached US$ 19.08 billion in 2018. Imports from China stood at US$ 12.7 billion and exports from Pakistan to China at US$ 1.85 billion in 2019.To enhance bilateral trade volume, the two countries signed the 2nd Phase of China Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA) during the Prime Minister’s visit in April 2019. CPFTA-II became operational from 1st January 2020. It would ensure provision of level-playing field in terms of concessions vis-à-vis other competitors; robust safeguard measures for protection of domestic industry; improved tariff reduction modality; higher liberalized import value from China and lesser import value for Pakistan and attracting FDI into SEZs.
Pakistan and China agreed to commence the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2013. CPEC is the cornerstone of Pakistan and China’s All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership. Under the concept of BRI, it was envisioned to promote win-win development and connectivity in the region. During the first decade of CPEC, energy-related, transport infrastructure and socio-economic development has taken place in Pakistan. The people of Pakistan are now witnessing the fruits of high-quality and sustainable development stimulated by this joint project.To facilitate the decision-making and to implement CPEC, a Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) has been constituted. The JCC is co-chaired by Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform and Vice-Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission. It is supported by 11 Joint Working Groups covering the various areas of cooperation including: (i) Energy, (ii) Transport Infrastructure, (iii) Gwadar, (iv) industrial cooperation, (v) Planning and finance, (vi) Security, (vii) Socio-Economic Development, and (viii) International Cooperation. Two new JWGs have been added. The ninth and tenth JWGs on Science & Technology and Agriculture were established in March 2020 during the visit of the President to China. Apart from these, there is a JWG on Long-Term Plan.Under CPEC’s first phase, China invested around 25.4 billion dollars in Pakistan, primarily in energy and transport infrastructure sectors. CPEC projects have added: 8000 MWs of energy to the national grid, 510 KMs of highways, 932 KMs of road networks, 820 KMs of Optical Fiber line; creating over 192000 jobs in Pakistan. All this development undertaken under CPEC in the past ten years has been incredibly impressive and a sterling example to emulate.