China, Pakistan confident to shape steady development of bilateral ties
Tunxi Initiative of Supporting Economic Reconstruction, cooperation with Afghanistan
BEIJING: Pakistan is the only all-weather strategic cooperative partner of China with the time-honored history and solid foundation of friendship, and just celebrated the 70th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic ties.
The two countries are confident enough to maintain and shape the steady development of bilateral ties that have been friendly for generations, regardless of the international and domestic political changes.
Dr Wang Xu, Deputy Director of Centre for South Asian Studies, Peking University expressed these views in an article published by China Economic Net here on Monday.
He said that Chinese President Xi Jinping described China and Pakistan as good brothers and good partners sharing a special friendship.
This is because the two countries have a high degree of consistency in safeguarding their joint and regional common interests of development and security. Meanwhile, the Third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan was held in Tunxi, Anhui Province in China Foreign ministers or high-level representatives of China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were present.
All parties at the meeting note that with the end of long years of war in Afghanistan, the country is now struggling with serious economic and livelihood difficulties as well as challenges across sectors. All parties pledge to support Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction in areas such as humanitarian assistance, connectivity, economy and trade, agriculture, energy and capacity building.
All parties decide to provide further humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, and call on the international community to give more support to Afghanistan, to help it restore cash liquidity and avoid humanitarian disaster. China will speed up delivering its commitment of providing Afghanistan with emergency humanitarian assistance such as food, winter supplies, COVID-19 vaccines and medical equipment, and is ready to provide additional humanitarian assistance through bilateral and multilateral channels. China will continue to provide Afghanistan with vaccines, medical equipment, medicine and other anti-epidemic supplies, carry out cooperation in Traditional Chinese Medicine, support the operation of Afghanistan’s medical and health systems, and help Afghanistan fight COVID-19.
Pakistan announced in-kind humanitarian assistance package of Rs. 5 billion (around $ 30 million). Pakistan has provided more than 13,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan under Pak-Afghan Cooperation Forum and provided three consignments of wheat to Afghanistan. Pakistan has also been channelizing humanitarian assistance from various philanthropic organizations of Pakistan. Pakistan is also acting as a channel to facilitate the flow of international humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, including providing transit facility for Indian wheat to Afghanistan on an exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes and facilitating the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) air-bridge between Islamabad and Kabul. Pakistan hosted 17th Extraordinary Session of OIC-CFM in Islamabad on 19 December 2021 where, inter alia, the following was decided: Establishment of a Humanitarian Trust Fund for Afghanistan (formalized during the 48th OIC Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Islamabad). Appointment of Ambassador Tarig Ali Bakheet as Special Envoy of the Secretary General of the OIC for Afghanistan. OIC General Secretariat, together with Islamic Development Bank and the Humanitarian Trust Fund, to devise a roadmap in concert with UN system organizations for unlocking financial and banking channels. OIC General Secretariat, in concert with World Health Organization and other relevant stakeholders, shall secure vaccines and medical supplies for Covid-19. Launching an Afghanistan Food Security Programme, under the aegis of Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS). Pakistan continues to provide free Covid-19 vaccination for all Afghans entering Pakistan, works with the Bill Gates Foundation for the eradication of Polio in Afghanistan, and is allowing Afghan patients and their attendants entry into Pakistan to enable their treatment in hospitals across Pakistan.
Turkmenistan will continue to provide humanitarian support to Afghanistan on a systematic basis, which is expressed in the construction of medical and educational institutions on the territory of the neighboring country, preferential supplies of electricity, training of Afghan students in educational institutions of Turkmenistan, regularly sending of humanitarian convoys to Afghanistan, and other types of help and assistance.
All parties recognize the importance of connectivity to the sustainable development of Afghanistan as a “land-locked country”, and stand ready to leverage their respective strengths to support Afghanistan in, based on the existing transportation networks with neighboring countries, exploring step by step new convenient channels to strengthen “hard connectivity” of infrastructure and “soft connectivity” of rules and standards with neighboring countries.
All parties are ready to strengthen cooperation in the implementation of transport agreements developed within the framework of the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP).
All parties expressed willingness to assist Afghanistan on its efforts toward self-generated development, and encourage Afghanistan to formulate future economic development plans based on its own national conditions and enhance internal driving force for development.
All parties agree to explore the establishment of an economic cooperation belt around Afghanistan to improve Afghanistan’s external development environment. All parties call on Afghanistan to create a favorable business environment for foreign enterprises.
All parties encourage the use of local currencies in bilateral trade and investment to lower transaction costs and facilitate trade and investment.
All parties are ready to strengthen communication with Afghanistan on trade policies, explore the signing of trade facilitation agreements, formulate transitional preferential trade arrangements, reduce taxes and fees on trade with Afghanistan, streamline customs clearance procedures such as commodity declaration and quality inspection, and improve Afghanistan’s level of trade facilitation.
China supports its enterprises in investing and starting businesses in Afghanistan when the security situation permits, and in resuming projects such as the Aynak Copper Mine and the Amu Darya Oilfield in due course. China supports its enterprises to help Afghanistan improve its mobile network, and explore and develop mineral resources.
Iran declares its readiness to assist in the exploration and extraction of mines, including the reserves in joint borders areas, and to provide technical assistance as well as joint investment to Afghanistan in this field.
Pakistan has allowed export of several items to Afghanistan in Pakistani Rupees via land routes to facilitate Afghanistan’s economy. A regime of Temporary Admission Documents (TAD) for commercial vehicles of Afghanistan and Pakistan has been agreed to facilitate movement of goods. Pakistan has reduced / waived off customs duty on Afghanistan’s perishable items such as fruits and vegetables being exported to Pakistan, and offered Afghanistan the opportunity to establish cold storage facilities close to border crossing points to assist trade in fruits and vegetables.
Russia expresses its support to national and joint Russian-Afghan businesses to start economic and trade activities in Afghanistan. Russia supports its companies to develop Afghanistan’s oil and gas fields and realize mined products on mutual agreed conditions.
Turkmenistan will develop trade and economic ties with Afghanistan, and continue to implement new joint projects in such important areas as energy, transport and communications, involving Afghan companies to these projects.
All parties note that agriculture is Afghanistan’s pillar industry, encourage Afghanistan to vigorously develop agriculture and raise food self-sufficiency, and stand ready to provide necessary support for Afghanistan’s agricultural development.
China supports Afghanistan in cultivating cotton, pepper, sunflower seeds and other agricultural products and exporting them to China, and will continue to facilitate the export of Afghan specialty agricultural products including pine nut, saffron, almond and pomegranate to China.
China stands ready to, as needed by Afghanistan, provide seeds, fertilizers and agricultural materials and machinery to Afghanistan, and support the development of high-value-added agricultural industries such as greenhouse planting to help Afghan farmers raise income.
Pakistan is desirous of deepening agriculture cooperation with Afghanistan and continues to engage with Afghan side to explore ways and means for agriculture.
All parties recognize that accelerating energy infrastructure development is crucial to Afghanistan’s economic development and improvement of living standards, and stand ready to make joint efforts to improve Afghanistan’s energy infrastructure.
China is ready to continue discussions with Afghanistan on solar power station and other projects based on Afghanistan’s needs and security condition, etc.
Pakistan supports energy infrastructure projects for the integration of regional countries in terms of economic development, infrastructure and improvement in livelihoods.
Pakistan is working on mega projects such as CASA-1000 and TAPI to augment energy cooperation with Central Asia through Afghanistan.
Russia stands ready to consider conduction of analysis with other interested parties of Afghanistan’s crucial infrastructure (power, water supply, road system etc.) with a view to develop a coordinated reconstruction plan.
Furthermore, Turkmenistan will promote the realization of the project of construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) power transmission line, laid in parallel with the TAPI gas pipeline, together with the Afghan and Pakistani sides. The project will serve as an important part of the energy infrastructure of Afghanistan, helping it on its path to economic recovery.
Uzbekistan is ready to accelerate the implementation of the “Surkhan—Puli-Khumri” power transmission line construction project.
All parties recognize that sufficient professional and technical talents is an important underpinning for Afghanistan’s future development, stand ready to provide support to this end, and call on outstanding Afghan talents to contribute to the country’s development and rejuvenation.
China pledges to further strengthen human resource development cooperation with Afghanistan for the cultivation of talents in key areas such as governance, health, poverty reduction and alleviation, disaster prevention and mitigation and trade and investment.