China-Pakistan Relations: “Ba Tie” (巴铁) “Iron Brother” is a unique terminology used for Pakistan only.

Based on five basic principles are mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. China has promoted its international relations with all nations. But, Pakistan is unique in nature and is often cited as an example in International affairs.

Pakistan and China established diplomatic relations on 21 May 1951. But the history of our interaction with China goes back thousands of years. More than two thousand years ago, the famous Monk Fa Xian and Xuan Zang, has visited the area, known as Pakistan today. Chinese traders used to pass through Pakistan while traveling to Central Asia, East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Just after three months of liberation, Pakistan’s official delegation visited China on 4 January 1950, laying down the foundation of the China-Pakistan friendship. Since then, it has grown in all dimensions with the passage of time and reached a status, where the rest of the world cites, China-Pakistan relations as a role model in international relations. In fact, 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 was one of the first few countries that recognized the People’s 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 partner 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 toward each other. There is a regular exchange of visits at the highest level between the two countries. The strategic cooperation between Pakistan and China has grown over the past several decades.

China is currently 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 on 1st January 2020. It would ensure the provision of a level-playing field in terms of concessions vis-à-vis other competitors; robust safeguard measures for the 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.

According to the State Bank of Pakistan Annual Report 2018, during FY 2018, China was the biggest investor in Pakistan with an investment of US$ 1.591 billion out of a total of US$ 2.537 billion which amounts to 63% of total FDI. With the initiation of CPEC, there has been an upsurge in investment flows into Pakistan, especially in the infrastructure and energy sectors.

CPEC is one of the six planned corridors under BRI. It is the only one in the advanced stage of execution and is considered a flagship project under BRI. The people of Pakistan are the beneficiary of this mega initiative and has been enjoying its fruits in term of electricity, infrastructure, and enhanced economic activities.

Pakistan and China have constituted a Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) to implement CPEC. The JCC is co-chaired by Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Reform and the Vice-Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission. It is supported by 10 Joint Working Groups covering the various areas of cooperation including (i) Energy, (ii) Transport Infrastructure, (iii) Gwadar, (iv) industrial cooperation, (v) Planning & Finance, (vi) Security, (vii) Socio-Economic Development, and (viii) International Cooperation, (ix) Science & Technology, (x) Agriculture.

Both nations enjoy harmony and mutual understanding. The cooperation and collaboration are enhancing, covering all dimensions. With the shared destiny, the two nations are struggling to achieve high-quality, sustainable, and eternal cooperation.

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