PM Shehbaz’s Visit was termed as successful and strategic in nature
China is a time-tested, All-Weather, and All-dimension, trust-worthy, neighbor and close friend of Pakistan. Mutual visits of the leadership of both countries are routine matters and provide an opportunity to further strengthen this unprecedented relationship in international relations. It is termed as exemplary and often cited as a role model.
H.E. Mr. Shehbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, undertook an official visit to the People’s Republic of China from 1-2 November 2022. This was the Prime Minister’s first bilateral visit after assuming office. However, he has been to China as a VM of Punjab, many times and is very much popular in China.
During the visit, H.E. Xi Jinping, President of China, met with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif held talks with H.E. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council, and met with H.E. Li Zhanshu, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. The Prime Minister felicitated President Xi Jinping on his re-election as General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), expressed admiration for his leadership, wisdom, vision, and people-centered philosophy of development, and commended his contributions to the continued growth of Pakistan-China relations. The Prime Minister welcomed President Xi to visit Pakistan. President Xi expressed that he would visit at his earliest convenience. The two leaders pledged to work together to further deepen the bilateral ties. He is the first foreign dignitary to meet President Xi, after the 20th National Congress of CPC, a new era in China.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif conveyed felicitations on the successful conclusion of the 20th CPC National Congress. He lauded the central role of the CPC and its leadership in promoting China’s development, prosperity, and national rejuvenation. He expressed deep admiration for China’s achievement in socio-economic development and contribution to the reform of world politics and governance philosophy under the leadership of the CPC.
Chinese leaders appreciated the long-standing commitment of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Pakistan-China friendship. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to further strengthen and deepen Pakistan-China All-weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership and enhance practical cooperation in all areas.
The two sides held an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations as well as the regional situation and international political landscape. The two sides agreed on the importance of the China-Pakistan All-weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership amidst the emerging global challenges. The meetings were marked by traditional warmth, mutual strategic trust, and commonality of views.
The leaders reaffirmed that close strategic ties and profound friendship between China and Pakistan were time-tested and resilient. Pakistan-China friendship is a historic choice of both peoples that serves the interests of the two countries. The Chinese side reiterated that relations with Pakistan will always be given the highest priority in its foreign policy. The Pakistani side underscored that the Pakistan-China relationship is the cornerstone of its foreign policy and that the Pakistani people always support the closest friendship between the two countries.
Both sides reiterated their mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests. The Pakistani side expressed its commitment to the one-China Policy and support on issues of Taiwan, the South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet. The Chinese side reaffirmed its support for Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and security, and promoted its socioeconomic development and prosperity.
The Chinese leadership expressed condolences and sympathies on the recent loss of life and property as a result of the unprecedented floods in Pakistan. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed appreciation for the timely and generous assistance extended by the government and people of China, including the provision of disaster relief supplies, the contributions of Chinese expert teams on post-disaster assessment and health care to assist with damage assessment, experience sharing in post-disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation, and post-disaster disease response to step up capacity of medical treatment. China’s mobilization of assistance was a vivid reflection of the time-tested All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership between the two countries.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif briefed the Chinese leadership on the post-flood relief and rehabilitation efforts. The Chinese side expressed its resolve to stand by Pakistan in these difficult times and to continue offering assistance to Pakistan in the latter’s plans for the rehabilitation of the affected areas.
Both sides reviewed with satisfaction the outcomes of the three sessions of the Foreign Minister’s Strategic Dialogue and agreed to hold its next meeting at the earliest possible in the first half of 2023 in Islamabad.
The two sides noted the key role of various bilateral cooperation mechanisms for deepening strategic communication and welcomed the holding of the Spokespersons Dialogue and the Consultations on Arms Control and Disarmament.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reaffirmed his Government’s willingness to commit to the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and highlighted the salience of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project under BRI, to Pakistan’s economic and social development.
The leaders took note of the convening of the 11th CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) on 27 October 2022, which reviewed the progress of ongoing projects and agreed to continue the momentum of CPEC’s high-quality development.
Recognizing that ML-1 is a project of key significance under the CPEC framework and of importance to Pakistan’s socio-economic development, the two sides agreed to build upon the leadership consensus and to advance the process of its earliest implementation. They also agreed to actively advance the Karachi Circular Railway, which was an urgent requirement for Pakistan’s biggest city.
Recognizing the significance of the Gwadar port as the leading project of CPEC and an important node in cross-regional connectivity, both sides expressed satisfaction with the completion of key projects and agreed to speed up progress on other related projects of the Gwadar port and free zone.
In line with the leadership’s consensus to accelerate cooperation in the areas of agriculture, mining, IT, and socio-economic development under CPEC, the two sides agreed to further build on the health, industry, digital and green corridors launched earlier this year and carry out relevant cooperation.
The Chinese side appreciates the efforts of the Pakistani government to vigorously develop renewable energy projects including solar projects which align with the green, low carbon, and environmental development of the energy sector and encourage the participation of Chinese companies in this Pakistani endeavor.
The two sides agreed to actively promote the implementation of the Framework Agreement on Industrial Cooperation to support Pakistan’s industrial development.
Both sides expressed their strong determination to counter all threats and designs against CPEC and Pakistan-China friendship. Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to the safety and security of all Chinese personnel, projects, and institutions in Pakistan. The Chinese side appreciated Pakistan’s strong determination and vigorous measures in this regard.
Noting the completion of a decade of CPEC’s remarkable achievements in 2023, the two sides expressed satisfaction with CPEC’s contribution to the socioeconomic development of the two countries.
The two sides noted that the recent meeting of the CPEC Joint Working Group on International Cooperation and Coordination (ICC) had highlighted that CPEC was an open and inclusive platform. Both sides welcomed interested third parties to benefit from investment opportunities in the priority areas of CPEC cooperation such as industry, agriculture, IT, science and technology, and oil and gas.
The two sides noted the steady increase in bilateral trade volume since the operationalization of the second phase of the Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement. Both sides resolved to further coordinate to enhance trade liberalization under the second phase of CPFTA and agreed to convene an early meeting of the Committee on Trade in Goods.
The Chinese side expressed willingness to actively support the Pakistani side in expanding export to China and welcomed quality goods including food and agricultural products from Pakistan to enter the Chinese market. It was further agreed to encourage investments and partnerships in the export-oriented sectors of Pakistan which would contribute to achieving sustainable bilateral trade growth. The two sides agreed to conduct a Joint Study to further enhance bilateral economic and trade cooperation.
The two sides agreed to fully leverage overland trade and exchanges by upgrading facilities at the Khunjerab border port and strengthening cooperation on epidemic containment and customs clearance in border areas. They also agreed to work together to further strengthen the implementation of the Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA), which is an important pillar of regional connectivity.
Acknowledging the massive size of China’s e-commerce market and its potential to further bolster bilateral trade, the two sides welcomed the signing of an MOU on e-commerce and jointly supported the establishment of Pakistan’s country pavilions on China’s e-commerce platforms. The two sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation on online payment systems, logistics, warehousing, and customs facilitation, and enhance collaboration between start-ups and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
The two sides noted that the first meeting of the China-Pakistan Joint Working Group on Trade, Investment, and E-commerce and the China-Pakistan Poverty Reduction and Social Development Forum was held this year, and exchanges and docking activities in the pharmaceutical, agricultural and shoe-making industries as well as capacity building courses on poverty reduction were organized. China is willing to continue relevant practical cooperation with Pakistan to contribute to poverty reduction and socioeconomic development in Pakistan.
The Pakistani side commended China’s remarkable achievement of lifting over 800 million people out of absolute poverty. Noting the displacement of millions of people due to the recent floods in Pakistan, the Chinese side agreed to support the Pakistani government in recovering the economy in disaster-hit areas, including through the Benazir Income Support Program.
The two sides agreed to keep in close communication to provide further facilitation for Pakistani students to come to China. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif thanked the Chinese leadership for the return of Pakistani students to Chinese education institutions.
The two sides agreed to inject new impetus into people-to-people contacts, tourism cooperation, and cultural exchanges between the two countries appreciated the role of the cultural cooperation agreement between the two governments and its executive programs and welcomed the extension of the current executive program to 2027.
The two sides further welcomed the decision to celebrate the Pakistan-China Year of Tourism Exchanges in 2023 and the organization of a Gandhara Art Exhibition at the Palace Museum in Beijing in 2022-2023.
Noting the gradual resumption of flight operation between the two countries, the two sides agreed to further increase the frequency of direct flights including between Islamabad and Beijing in due course.
Both sides expressed satisfaction with the close cooperation, trust, and communication between the armed forces of the two countries. Underscoring that stronger strategic defense and security cooperation between China and Pakistan is an important factor of peace and stability in the region, the two sides agreed to maintain high-level mil-to-mil visits and exchanges and deepen cooperation in areas of training, joint exercises, and military technology.
The two sides condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and expressed opposition to the politicization of the issue of counter-terrorism. China recognized Pakistan’s contributions and sacrifices in the fight against terrorism. The two sides agreed to further enhance counter-terrorism cooperation to promote international peace and security.
The two sides reiterated that a peaceful and prosperous South Asia is in the common interest of all parties. They emphasized the importance of resolving all outstanding disputes through sincere dialogue. The Pakistani side briefed the Chinese side on the situation in Jammu & Kashmir. The Chinese side reiterated that the Kashmir issue was a dispute left from history that should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and bilateral agreements.
On Afghanistan, the two sides agreed that a peaceful, prosperous, interconnected, and stable Afghanistan is fundamental to regional prosperity and progress. They expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the three Foreign Ministers’ meetings of the six neighboring countries of Afghanistan and looked forward to the next meeting to be held in Uzbekistan.
The two sides underscored the need for the international community to provide continued assistance and support to Afghanistan including through unfreezing of Afghanistan’s overseas financial assets. The two sides agreed to continue their humanitarian and economic assistance for the Afghan people and enhance development cooperation in Afghanistan, including through CPEC’s extension to Afghanistan.
Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and agreed to jointly promote multilateralism, free trade, and win-win cooperation. They expressed satisfaction with their close cooperation at multilateral fora and are resolved to further deepen strategic communication, coordination, and consultation.
The Pakistani side expressed support for the Global Development Initiative (GDI) put forward by the Chinese side. The two sides identified development as a key driver in ensuring the prosperity of nations. In this context, they agreed to further enhance cooperation within the GDI framework for the realization of SDGs. China expressed appreciation to Pakistan for participating in the Group of Friends of GDI as one of the pioneering members and identified Pakistan as a priority partner under the GDI.
The Pakistani side expressed support for the Global Security Initiative (GSI) put forward by the Chinese side as it aligned with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The two sides agreed to promote international cooperation in this regard.
The two sides supported consensus-based reform of the UN to respond to the interests and concerns of all Member States.
The two sides underlined to further strengthen coordination and collaboration within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and jointly push for deeper SCO cooperation across the political, security, business, connectivity, and people-to-people fields, so as to better serve the common interests of regional countries, and make greater contributions to safeguarding regional peace and stability, promoting prosperity and development, and improving global governance.
The two sides reiterated their commitment to advancing and protecting human rights for all in accordance with applicable international obligations and national circumstances. They stressed that bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the area of human rights should be guided by the principles of the UN Charter including respect for political independence, sovereignty, and non-interference in the internal affairs of States.
The two sides recognized climate change as an existential threat and undertook to make concrete and concerted efforts to mitigate and adapt to the adverse impact of climate change. The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to the UNFCCC as well as to the goals, principles, and provisions of its Paris Agreement, in particular the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR).
The two sides recognized that the recent floods in Pakistan were closely linked to the adverse impact of climatic change for which developing countries bear little responsibility but are subject to a disproportionate impact. The two sides called on developed countries to fulfill their commitments, take the lead in emissions reduction to ensure the development rights and space for developing countries, and provide adequate climate financing to developing countries.
Appreciating Pakistan’s initiative to combat human-induced climate change and China’s initiative to promote green cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, the two sides agreed to step up cooperation in such areas as ecosystem restoration and water resource management.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif thanked the leadership and people of China for the warm and generous hospitality accorded to him and his delegation and expressed his best wishes for China’s continued development and prosperity and its vigorous pursuit of national rejuvenation.
The two sides signed and concluded a number of agreements/MoUs, covering bilateral cooperation in areas of e-commerce, digital economy, export of agricultural products, financial cooperation, protection of cultural property, infrastructure, flood relief, post-disaster reconstruction, GDI, animal disease control, livelihood, cultural cooperation, space, geosciences as well as law enforcement and security.
The meeting was of high strategic significance and achieved its political goals. The outcome of this visit will be visibly seen in the days to come. More economic cooperation and Chinese investment may be poured into Pakistan. Close cooperation in the security and economic front will be enhanced. The people of Pakistan will enjoy the fruits of this visit soon.
Reference Link:- https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2022/11/09/pm-shehbazs-visit-termed-as-successful-and-strategic-in-nature/