Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday concluded his state visit to Pakistan after the two neighbours lifted their ties to an all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and signed over 50 cooperation deals.
The trip to the South Asian country, the first leg of Xi’s first overseas tour this year, testifies to the importance of the China-Pakistan relationship and marks a significant stroke of Beijing’s neighborhood diplomacy.
Since the establishment of their diplomatic relations 64 years ago, China and Pakistan have forged an ironclad friendship. Now thanks to Xi’s two-day visit, the two “iron friends” have begun upgrading their close relationship to an ever closer community of common destiny.
ALL-WEATHER STRATEGIC COOPERATIVE PARTNERSHIP
In Xi’s talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday, the two countries decided to lift their relations to an all-weather strategic cooperative partnership.
“The Chinese side highly values its relationship with Pakistan, and has always placed the relationship on a priority position on its foreign policy agenda,” Xi told Sharif during the talks.
“China and Pakistan have always trusted, understood and supported each other, and are all-weather friends,” said Xi, recalling that the two countries helped evacuate each other’s citizens from war-torn Yemen not long ago.
For his part, Sharif said that the Pakistan-China friendship is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy, and the Pakistani people treasure the brotherly relationship with China.
Addressing a joint sitting of Pakistan’s parliament on Tuesday, the Chinese president spoke highly of the all-weather friendship and all-dimensional cooperation between the two countries.
The two sides, he proposed, should constantly enrich the content of the China-Pakistan community of common destiny and shape it into a model for the building of an Asian community of the kind.
Meanwhile, he put forward a five-point proposal to usher in a new phase of bilateral relations, calling on the two sides to further boost strategic cooperation, pursue common development, carry on their long-lasting friendship, jointly address security challenges and strengthen coordination on international affairs.
The China-Pakistan community of common destiny is a strategic choice made by the two governments and peoples, which conforms to the interests of both countries, he added.
In his meeting with Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain, Xi said that his visit to Pakistan has led him to become ever more confident in the future of China-Pakistan relations.
“1+4” COOPERATION STRUCTURE
High on the agenda of Xi’s visit to the South Asian country is advancing the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a planned network of roads, railways and energy projects linking southwest Pakistan’s deepwater Gwadar Port with northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
“We need to form a ‘1+4’ cooperation structure with the CPEC at the center and the Gwadar Port, transport infrastructure, energy and industrial cooperation being the four key areas to achieve a win-win result and common development,” Xi told Sharif.
The two countries should make steady progress in developing the Gwadar Port and building the CPEC, so as to bring benefits to the people and set an example for other major projects on regional interconnectivity, he said.
A joint declaration was issued after the talks, in which the two countries set the target of lifting bilateral trade to 20 billion U.S. dollars in three years, up from the current 16 billion dollars.
Also during Xi’s visit, Pakistan’s Karot hydropower project became the first recipient of funding support from China’s 40-billion-dollar Silk Road Fund, which said in a statement that it will actively provide more financing opportunities for other projects under the CPEC framework.
In addition, Xi and Sharif also witnessed the signing of more than 50 cooperation deals covering transport infrastructure, energy, agriculture, trade, finance, health, local affairs, media, ocean sciences and education.
Later Tuesday, Xi left for Indonesia to attend an Asian-African summit and activities to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference.(Xinhua)