Upon a formal invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the Prime Minister of Islamic republic of Pakistan, Imran Khan paid his first official four-day visit to China on 4th November. An unprecedented welcome was accorded to Prime Minister Khan. In the exquisite Chinese traditional style he was exposed to the Chinese media and key institutions. In particular, Prime Minister Khan addressed the prestigious Central Party School, under the jurisdiction of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, whose day-to-day affairs is run by an executive vice president and is regarded as having the same rank as a cabinet minister. This is an extremely rare event and Prime Minister Khan becomes part of only a hand-full of foreign heads of government to be allowed to address the students of the party school where past (as well as future) Chinese leaders are trained. Clearly this rare event and hence great honor given to Prime Minister Khan cannot be understated. Prime Minister Khan also met with, among others, China’s top leadership including President Xi Jinping, Vice-President Wang Qishan, Premier Li Keqiang, and Chairman Li Zhanshu of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.
As Prime Minister, Khan led a Pakistani delegation which included Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Advisor to PM on Commerce Abdul Razzaq Dawood, Finance Minister Asad Umar and Railway Minister Shiekh Rasheed. This visit has illustrated Prime Minister Khan’s primal style of leadership, an appropriate balance of rational and intuitive while taking measures for governance. This is also reflected in his strong determination for creating a strong bilateral relationship with China. Indeed, the Chinese and Pakistani foreign ministries have both, termed Prime Minister Khan’s visit as a great success. Both nations got a clear indication that Sino-Pak relations and the all-weather friendship is reliable as ever, sustainable, and with the mutual cooperation of both nations, it has the scope of growing stronger. China reiterated that Pakistan remains one of its highest foreign policy priorities. They offered their appreciation to Pakistan for playing a significant role in promoting regional stability, security, and expressed their firm support for the peaceful resolution to solve the regions’ many unsettled disputes, e.g. in Afghanistan and Kashmir. The future thus stands bright for deeper understanding and collaboration between both the countries in numerous areas. The visionary leadership of Khan and his attempts to reach mutual consensus during his tenure as prime minister will be of great importance over the coming decade is setting the future directions of Sino-Pak relationship. This visit to China also boosted the Pakistan Prime Minister’s stature as one of South Asia’s most dynamic leaders.
Prime Minister Khan also attended the First China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, making an address as the keynote speaker. Here, he highlighted the importance of Pakistan to President Xi’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and shared how Gwadar is vital installation in this initiative, so that China can connect with the rest of the region. He also emphasized the advantages of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is seen by many as the flagship of BRI. It is hoped that the Shanghai Expo will have a positive impact on trade and commerce of the region.
In addition to meeting with high level Chinese government officials, Prime Minister Khan also held important meetings with members of the business community, signing fifteen Memorandums of Understandings (MoUs). These cover various areas of mutual interest for future collaboration. These agreements were signed during delegation-level talks between the two countries at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Most significant have been agreements pertaining to poverty alleviation in Pakistan, strengthening cooperation in agriculture, industrial sectors and technical and vocational trainings. Likewise, the Higher Education of Pakistan, Science Academy of China, the Chinese Academy of Science and Pakistan Metrological Department also signed agreements during these high-level meetings. It was also agreed that China will support Pakistan in establishing special economic zones.
President Xi expressed that he highly valued the “all-weather strategic partnership’ between the two countries. He further said that “I attach great importance to China-Pakistan relations and I am willing to work together with the prime minister Khan to strengthen the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership and build a new era of China-Pakistan destiny”. Furthermore, the Chinese State Councilor Mr. Wang Yi also assured the Pakistani Foreign Minister that China will always provide its full support for Pakistan’s national construction, and economic and social development.
In return Prime Minister Khan praised China’s success in alleviating millions from poverty and said that it was a unique achievement throughout world; we desire to learn from it. The Pakistani Prime Minister also emphasized that lessons can be learned from China’s progress and while addressing members of the Chinese communist party he said that Pakistan wants to implement these lessons gleamed from China’s evolution over last decades. He also appreciated President Xi’s visionary Belt and Road initiative (BRI), noting how it will enhance regional and international connectivity. Both countries stated that BRI is a “win-win” enterprise for the whole region. It will bring development, regional prosperity and various new opportunities for all the countries involved. The clear message to be taken away by this visit is of mutual harmony, true friendship and consensus between China and Pakistan reiterated by the governments of both countries. In spite of the negative propaganda roaming about, the international impact of the visit will be soon obvious when projects of China Pakistan Economic Corridor shall be materialized. Hence, misunderstandings and negative propaganda directed at both countries will hush down as mist of doubts will be clarified by implementation of MOUs. Without any doubt, the visit of Prime Minister Khan is a success; it was an icebreaker and instead of relying on word of mouth only proper task force has been created to ascertain that cooperation between both countries is extended, and legalized. even more so at legislative levels. It was further decided during this visit that both countries will maintain the pace of exchange visits, and bilateral meetings, managing key multilateral events and conferences. Prime Minister Khan offered his thanks to China’s leadership for their kind hospitality and invited Chinese leaders to come to Pakistan at a mutually convenient time.
PAK-CHEEN DOSTI ZINDABAD!
By: Sidra Tariq Jamil