Islamabad- Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood has said that the relationship with China will remain the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy and CPEC will serve as a key driver of this flourishing partnership in 21st century.
Addressing at the book launching ceremony of “Higher than Karakoram” the foreign secretary said strategic vision on both sides would continue to nurture the relationship in decades to come.
The foreign secretary said the Pakistan-China relationship was unique and unparalleled in inter-state relations, in terms of mutual trust, mutual understanding and mutual support.
He mentioned that over the past seven decades, Pakistan-China relations had grown from strength to strength, unaffected by the vicissitudes of time and changes in the regional and global environment.
He said the relationship has matured into a time-tested “All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership.” We are indeed “Iron brothers”, he added.
Sohail Mahmood said 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.
He said 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,” he stressed.
The foreign secretary said 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 and Kashmir dispute, he added.
The foreign secretary said the launching of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2015 brought the relationship to new heights.
As the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, he said, CPEC was set to become a High-Quality Demonstration Project of BRI and accelerate economic integration and regional connectivity.
He said there was complete national consensus across the political spectrum in Pakistan on CPEC’s indispensability for our national development.
The foreign secretary said after the successful conclusion of its first phase, the transformational CPEC project has entered the second phase, with a vigorous focus on industrialization, agriculture, and socio-economic development.
He expressed hope that the Special Economic Zones (SEZs), being developed under CPEC, would rejuvenate Pakistan’s process of industrialization and further spur economic development.
He said CPEC would serve as a key driver of our flourishing partnership in the 21st Century. Strategic vision on both sides would continue to nurture the relationship in the decades to come.
Sohail Mahmood said at the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, Pakistan immediately dispatched essential medical supplies to China to support its fight against the pandemic.
He recalled that President Dr Arif Alvi visited Beijing in March 2020 to express solidarity with the people and the government of China.
He said 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.
The foreign secretary said cooperation between Pakistan and China on the vaccine was 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,” he said.
He said, “We take pride in China’s impressive achievements under President Xi’s visionary leadership, including the elimination of extreme poverty and recent landing on Mars.”
He said Pakistan had 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, he added.
He mentioned that seven Pakistan Study Centers, eleven Urdu Language Departments in various Chinese universities, and five Confucius Institutes in Pakistan were promoting cultural understanding among the people of two countries.
To commemorate this historic event, he said, the foreign ministers of China and Pakistan unveiled the official logo of the 70th anniversary in a simultaneously held virtual ceremony on March 2, 2021.
He said Pakistan and China have planned a series of events, spread over the entire year, to commemorate this milestone in a befitting manner.