May 20, 2021| Press Releases|
Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman, Board of Governors, ISSI,
Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General, ISSI,
H.E. Nong Rong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China,
Ambassador Moin-ul-Haq in Beijing
Dr. Talat Shabbir, Director, China-Pakistan Study Centre,
Distinguished Speakers and Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalam-o-Alaikum & Ni Hao!
I am honored to participate in this important book launching ceremony. “Higher Than Karakoram” is an apt description of the Pakistan-China relationship, that is unique and unparalleled in inter-state relations, in terms of mutual trust, mutual understanding, and mutual support.
I congratulate Dr. Talat Shabbir and other distinguished contributors, who have deftly captured myriad facets of this historic relationship, spanning over 70 years. There is no doubt that this book will facilitate better understanding of the depth and breadth of these relations and guide academic discourse in the future.
Over the past seven decades, Pakistan-China relations have grown from strength to strength, unaffected by the vicissitudes of time and changes in the regional and global environment. The relationship has matured into a time-tested “All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership.” We are indeed “Iron brothers.”
Pakistan and China took a historic decision in 1966 to build the Karakoram Highway (KKH). Around 1000 brave workers made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, while constructing this marvel of the world. The cemetery in Gilgit of Chinese nationals reminds us of the sacrifices rendered by the valiant people of the two countries in nourishing this eternal bond. China-Pakistan bilateral relations are rightly hailed as “taller than mountains, deeper than oceans, and sweeter than honey.” Pakistan-China relationship is, and will remain, the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
Pakistan and China steadfastly support each other on the issues of their core interest. Pakistan adheres to ‘One-China policy’ and supports China on issues such as Xinjiang, Hong Kong, South China Sea, Taiwan and Tibet. China has stood by Pakistan in supporting our key strategic, economic and developmental priorities. Maintaining a principled position, China supports Pakistan on the Jammu & Kashmir dispute.
Launching of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2015 brought the relationship to new heights. As the flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative, CPEC is set to become a High-Quality Demonstration Project of BRI and accelerate economic integration and regional connectivity. There is complete national consensus across the political spectrum in Pakistan on CPEC’s indispensability for our national development.
After successful conclusion of its first phase, the transformational CPEC project has entered the second phase, with vigorous focus on industrialization, agriculture and socio-economic development. We hope that the Special Economic Zones (SEZs), being developed under CPEC, will rejuvenate Pakistan’s process of industrialization and further spur economic development. Indeed, CPEC will serve as a key driver of our flourishing partnership in the 21st Century. Strategic vision on both sides will continue to nurture the relationship in the decades to come.
At the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, Pakistan immediately dispatched essential medical supplies to China to support its fight against the pandemic. President Dr. Arif Alvi visited Beijing in March 2020 to express solidarity with the people and the government of China.
In the wake of outbreak of COVID-19 in Pakistan, China assisted us generously. A team of Chinese medical experts visited Pakistan on special instructions of President Xi. Over 60 planeloads of relief goods were dispatched to Pakistan to help us contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cooperation between Pakistan and China on vaccine is progressing very well. We are deeply grateful to China for providing us COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines provided by China are playing an important role in saving precious lives and controlling the pandemic. National Institute of Health is building a local vaccine manufacturing facility with China’s help.
High-level exchanges are a hallmark of our relationship and play a catalytic role in further fortifying mutual cooperation in diverse fields. Prime Minister Imran Khan visited China several times during 2018 and 2019 to further solidify and deepen mutual collaboration. In 2015, President Xi had made a landmark visit to Pakistan and we look forward to welcoming him again for a second and equally historic visit.
We take pride in China’s impressive achievements under President Xi’s visionary leadership, including the elimination of extreme poverty and recent landing on the Mars.
People-to-people exchanges and cultural linkages between China and Pakistan have further cemented bilateral ties. Currently, over 30,000 Pakistani students are studying in China, benefiting from China’s advanced educational system.
We have established seven Sister-Province and fourteen Sister-City relationships with China. A dozen more such arrangements are in the process and expected to be finalized as part of 70 years celebrations this year. Seven Pakistan Study Centers, eleven Urdu Language Departments in various Chinese Universities, and five Confucius Institutes in Pakistan are promoting cultural understanding between the two peoples.
To commemorate this historic event, the Foreign Ministers of China and Pakistan unveiled the official logo of 70th anniversary in a simultaneously held virtual ceremony on 2 March 2021. Pakistan and China have planned a series of events, spread over the entire year, to commemorate this milestone in a befitting manner.
On this occasion, I wish to thank Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry for engaging scholars and diplomats working on diverse aspects of Pakistan-China relations. We hope that such solid academic contributions and insightful writings will help illustrate the salience of this relationship and advance our shared key policy objectives.
Last modified: May 20, 2021
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