China, Pakistan stepping ahead towards a common destination

Muhammad Zamir Assadi

China, Pakistan known as two brotherly countries with the relationship defined as sweater than honey, stronger than steel and higher than Himalayas have entered into the 69th years of diplomatic relationship.

The bilateral relationship between two very close and bordering nations have become an example of diplomatic history as both have always trusted and supported each other on international forum in every thick and thin.

China since its development in 1949 has crossed many stages of innovation and development and it has always cared for its partners in this successful journey full of significant achievements.

Pakistan being a close ally country with the 2nd largest economy of the world have always benefitted from the regional and neighboring diplomacy of China.

In the journey of diplomatic relationship both nations developed the complete unanimity of views that have helped in deepening the ties sincerely and brought the people of both sides closer to each other.

The consistent coordination and communication have maintained the pace of smooth relationship and developed the ties in various levels ranging from defense, economy, education, medical, social, business, science, arts and others.

The leadership of both friendly nations has nurtured the relationship from the decades in a way that cannot be explained and quantified as per the conventional theories of diplomacy as it has emerged from the core of the heart and genuine emotions of people from both sides have attached with it.

Non-interference in the internal affairs and strong support to the core interests of each other have developed a model of state to state relationship that has laid the foundation and led to the great developments regarding Karakorum Highway (KKH), CPEC, Gwadar port, JF-17 and the multi layered cooperation have brought tangible changes to the lives of the people on both sides and off course Pakistan is the biggest beneficiary.

The time tested relationship has become a vital and significant corner stone of Pakistani foreign policy as this strategic relationship has led Pakistan in maintaining regional stability and strengthening its position on dynamics of South Asian affairs.

The support of China to Pakistan has also strengthened the narrative of Pakistan against terrorism that has devastated the development process in the region and caused the loss of precious lives.

The sacrifices of Pakistani forces and people in the war on terror have always been acknowledged by China at international level and supported Pakistani stance even at UN forums.

In the recent years, Pakistan was among the first countries to join the President Xi jinping’s signature project Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Pakistan once again took the benefit by gaining the flagship project of BRI known as China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Pakistan signed the cooperation agreement with China based on mutual understanding, respect and cooperation.

CPEC was like a blessing for Pakistan in 2015 at a time when Pakistan was facing a financial crunch and was struggling to meet the needs of people in terms of energy production and infrastructural development.

CPEC started in Pakistan with passion and commitment based on mutual consultations maintained the pace of development and gained the high quality results for the country.

In those years Pakistan was going through the worst energy crisis that hit the industry of the country badly and Pakistan was losing billions of dollars in exports of various products including its textile that have become a major hit in European and other countries.

Under the development of CPEC, Pakistan managed to overcome the energy shortages by generating much needed electricity in the country that restarted the stagnant wheel of industry and energized the economic activities in Pakistan.

The development of projects in energy and infrastructure sectors also helped to generate more than 75 thousand jobs in the 1st phase that also helped Pakistani workers to gain Chinese work experience by performing duties with Chinese workers.

It was first time for thousands of Pakistani workers to work with Chinese engineers that was an opportunity of learning an international experience and to get the direct experience of Chinese speed.

While working with Chinese engineers Pakistani workers also learned about the Chinese work ethics which have already been admired at international level for achieving high quality results within specified time.

The development of energy projects paved an effective way for the fast economic growth that enabled the industry to meet the competitive environment at international level in terms of trade.

The energy projects are generating 1/3 of the electricity for Pakistan now which have been contributing to Pakistan’s economy and socio economic development.

The smooth working based on mutual respect under CPEC has proved that both nations are working for common prosperity to pursue the consolidated strategic friendship for gaining the benefits.

CPEC has brought $25 billion in direct investment with 32 projects achieving early harvests and China has been the major source of FDI for Pakistan in the past five consecutive years. 

More than projects of $40 billion have also being negotiating for the 2nd phase of CPEC for various sectors of Pakistan including industrial cooperation, agricultural development, and trade promotion, educational corridor, vocational trainings, human development, Railway up gradation, SEZ construction, Gwadar port development, poverty alleviation, SMEs and social sector assistance .

CPEC have done a great job for KKH as well as it is nearly ready for the traffic while the test run of the Lahore Orange Line have also seen the successful run and the construction of new airport in Gwadar has also entered into 2nd phase while Gwadar port has already emerged as an economic hub for the region as it is going to connect China with other parts of the world.

According to statistics from the State Bank of Pakistan, the total foreign debt of Pakistan is 110 billion US dollars. In fact, international financial institutions including the Paris Club and IMF are the largest creditors of Pakistan. 

Loan for the CPEC is about 5.8 billion US dollars, accounting for 5.3% of Pakistan’s total foreign debt, with a repayment period of 20-25 years and an interest rate of approximately 2%. Its repayments will start in 2021, with annual repayments of about 300 million US dollars. 

It will never be a burden to Pakistan. Moreover, China has never forced other countries to pay debts, and will not make unreasonable demands on Pakistan. The US keeps fabricating the so-called debt story, their mathematics is bad, and their intention is worse.

China has always passed the test of times and challenges as we have witnessed recently that the country has successfully tackled the worst health crisis of the history as Beijing was the first one to be hit by this unknown enemy known as “COVID-19”.

The measures taken by Chinese government under the visionary leadership of President Xi Jinping have proved to be fruitful and successful as the Corona Virus has been defeated by China.

The successful model adopted by Chinese side has now become a ray of hope for the international community to contain the spread of virus in their respective countries.

The campaign of tackling the virus and provision of best health care to the Chinese citizens have also shown the effectiveness of the Chinese characteristics and the system evolved and working under the guidance of Chinese Communist Party.

The response of Chinese health system in fight against COVID-19 by evolving the treatment protocols shows that the Chinese system is running with the pace of times by competing against all of the disastrous challenges.

The commitment, passion and united response of Chinese nations with a clear goal in mind against the worst health crisis of mankind have well safeguarded public health care system in the country.

The Chinese also shared their experience of success in countering epidemic with the international community and as this virus hit the other parts of the world, Chinese doctors, medical equipments and technical assistance was the first one arrived in those capitals.

China shared all its experience with the developed and developing countries and there was no discrimination in the Chinese assistance as the securing of human lives was a top priority.

With the guidance of Chinese experience and knowledge many countries have started their campaign against this deadly virus and have become successful in containing this contagious pandemic.

Now as the deadliest virus is under control so the China has reopened for the world by ending all kind of lock down and it has also paved a way for restarting the stagnant economic engines.

China has generated a very powerful message for the world through its experience that multilateral cooperation is essential for the successful fight against COVID-19 and there is no space for unilateralism in this campaign.

This is a global pandemic and the response to defeat this virus must be global by joining hands and stepping ahead in a collaborative manner and yes you cannot move alone and go ahead by falsely blaming WHO and China.

World is facing the economic recession and now looking towards China for gaining maximum incentives in industrial, service sectors and others.

The successful arrangements of Two Sessions was a tribute to the Chinese nation and a message for the world that any crisis on the earth will not remain forever and it can be defeated with the strong dedication, right decisions with the logical measures.

Meanwhile when the international community is facing the worst health crisis in the shape of COVID-19, China was again the 1st country to help Pakistan to tackle this challenge with its excellent experience sharing, medical equipments donations and technical assistance by sending Chinese doctors to the friendly nation.

In Pakistan’s fight against COVID-19 , China always stepped up and stood with Pakistan as it has yet donated medical equipment and materials of more than $55 million to Pakistan that have played a critical role in rescuing the precious lives of Pakistani patients and helping the country’s health infrastructure.

All Chinese companies working for the CPEC have generously donated medical assistance to Pakistan in the current difficult situation while the Chinese provinces, financial institutions and other organizations also helped Pakistan in critical times by donating medical equipments that earned the huge respect.

The Chinese quick and effective assistance to Pakistan at a very early stage of this pandemic helped Pakistan to contain the epidemic and to spread the awareness in public about the prevention and control.

COVID-19 also did not put any negative impact on CPEC projects as strict preventive measures regarding the workers were being adopted and surprisingly not a single case was recorded from the engineers working on these game changer projects.

The Chinese assistance to Pakistan at a very early stage showed that the ties between two nations are very deep rooted and it will pass on to the next generations as well.

The recovered patients, their family members and the society have also paid a great tribute to China as they know the credit of ongoing successful fight also goes to China as Beijing have really won the hearts and minds of Pakistani people again in the Pakistan’s fight against COVID-19.

The generous support from the China to Pakistan when the Chinese side is itself fighting against this devil virus shows the testimony between two nations and their commitment to growth jointly.

In this fast developing relationship, there are people with negative minds slandering the ties in western media and on social media outlets especially on Facebook and Twitter.

These are the misguided elements always try to malign and sabotage the brotherly relationship but they are not aware of the fact this is a kind of relationship that can never be undermined.

It is also observed that most of the times coward people with their changed names post vicious propaganda against the relationship on social media.

These are very limited people paid by certain lobbies to spread hate and the narratives suits their mind set but the fact is that such campaigns are always failed to get much attention of internet users.

These elements are always rejected by people aware of foundation of bilateral relationship and got strong rebuttal.

The need of the time is that such elements should be blocked on posting false information regarding a relationship between China and Pakistan and the achievements of the ties cultivated in last 69 years. 

They are the same people who always slander China’s measures regarding Muslims in Chinese society.

Certain elements from around the world especially from USA allege China that try to undermine the ethnic harmony existing in Chinese society by interfering in Chinese internal affairs.

As per my experience after visiting more 22 different regions of China, I have found that China believes on religious freedom and does not interfere in any other’s belief and creed.

The various ethnicities including Muslims enjoy equal rights and freedom in Chinas as per guaranteed by law of the land.

China is taking much sophisticated measures for the development of Muslims in Xinjiang autonomous region that have helped the ethnicity to avail more opportunities to become a meaningful part of the prosperous society.

The vicious propaganda of the US government about Muslims in China and vocational training centers does not carry any ground realities.

The US government people who always accuses China about treatment of Muslims never visited Xinjiang and they always fabricate the factual information.

Chinese Muslims are being provided with much facilities and guidance from central and provincial governments to become a productive part of the society.

Matter of the fact is that the Chinese Muslims in Xinjiang and other parts of China are performing their valuable part in the development of Chinese society and they have become a flower with most admiring fragrance in the ethnic bouquet of China. 

Xinjiang has gained the attention of international community as it is the starting point of CPEC which will be connecting with Gwadar port and new trade corridor will connect China and the region with world.

This is also the reason that US and other misguided elements always manipulate against China but their useless campaigns will always fail and the projects of prosperity will always prosper for the productive benefits of the masses.

The author is a media fellow of China South Asia and South East Asia Press Centre