On 67th anniversary, Pakistan-China relations entering new era

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This Monday, May 21, marked another anniversary in the history of China-Pakistan relations. The  formal diplomatic relationship was established on that date in 1951, but the history of the relationship goes back thousands of years, to the time when ancient Chinese traders traveled to Europe via what is now Pakistan.

Pakistan was an important station on the ancient Silk Route. And more than 2,000 years ago, famous Chinese monks such as Fa Xian and Xuan Zang traveled to Pakistan to study Buddhism. Although it is mentioned in the famous book Journey to the West that Fa Xian and Xuan Zang traveled to India to acquire Buddhist knowledge, most of the names in the book, such as Peshawar, Swat, Taxila and Kashmir, to name a few, are all in present-day Pakistan.

The first official delegation of the government of Pakistan visited China on January 4, 1950, just three months after the end of the Chinese Civil War and establishment of the People’s Republic.

In its first six decades, relations between Pakistan and China were mostly political in nature. There were frequent exchange visits of the leaderships of both countries. The two nations supported each other on domestic issues, as well as on regional and international issues.

The foreign offices of both countries maintained close coordination, which resulted in complete harmony on world affairs. They made major progress on bilateral ties and many memoranda of understanding  and agreements were signed between the two countries, including:

With the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative and signing of the CPEC agreement, relations between Pakistan and China have entered a new era. In addition to the already strong political and military relationship, economic relations have improved exponentially.

Chinese investments are pouring into Pakistan, and several mega-projects have been launched in power generation and transmission. Basic infrastructure such as motorways, railway, airports, seaports, oil and gas pipelines, and optical-fiber linkages are being upgraded and strengthened.

Chinese nationals are coming in to help build a stronger and viable Pakistan. People-to-people contact has increased tremendously. The number of flights between two countries has increased. Cultural exchanges are increasing by means of students learning Chinese and cultural troupes visiting each other.

Pakistani students now consider China as one of the most desirable destinations for higher education.

Sino-Pakistani friendship has expanded in all dimensions and has been forged into a strategic partnership. In fact, Pakistan has entered a new era of relationship with China.

To date, CPEC’s progress is satisfactory. The early harvest projects meet the timelines in most cases. However, CPEC in entering the next phase, where Pakistan will launch special economic zones and China will move some of its industry into Pakistan. The Pakistani private sector is gearing up for joint ventures with Chinese counterparts.

Industrialization will generate an abundance of job opportunities and increase national productivity in Pakistan. The industrial output will meet the requirements of the domestic market, eventually reducing Pakistan’s import bill, while excess products will be exported, reducing the trade gap and becoming a major source of foreign exchange.

Agriculture is Pakistan’s economic backbone and will remain a key feature in CPEC’s next phase. The mineral sector is another area that needs attention and will see a surge in the next phase.

The real potential for growth of economic ties between China and Pakistan is huge. China and Pakistan will work hand in hand to achieve a prosperous future.

Long live Pakistan-China friendship. Zhong-ba you yi wan sui.

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