PAK-CHINA BILATERAL RELATIONS

FOZIA ISHAQUE (Fozia.ishaque@hotmail.com) 
Nov 24 - 30, 2008

Pak China friendship is deep rooted in the ethos of both countries. China has been an all weather friend for Pakistan. Strong, multi-faceted and long-term relationship with China is not only the cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy, but the fervent desire of its people. Despite all geopolitical changes this traditional friendship has evolved into a strong and vibrant, multidimensional strategic cooperative partnership. Today Pakistan is going through a critical period due to its long-deteriorating financial situation, as investor flight and bleeding of national reserves force the country to scramble for international funds to shore up its economy. Therefore we are seeking help from China who is an old friend newly flush with cash.

China is sheltered from the worst of the financial storm, so much so that many are looking at it to play a part in hauling the global economy into calmer waters. Keeping in view these facts official visits have been arranged by President of the country as concern has surged over a possible debt default by Pakistan that could cripple its economy and spark more civil unrest. The amount of money Pakistan needs in the short term is relatively small i.e. $4 billion to $6 billion. China has the largest foreign exchange reserves in the world amounting to $1.9 trillion. The government is now seeking as much as $3 billion in emergency assistance from China, as well as assistance from oil-rich Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Following President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to China, the Chinese government has agreed to provide financial assistance of $500 million to the Pakistani government. According to an official statement issued by the Ministry of Finance this gesture by the Chinese government bears testimony to the close relations between the two countries. After this visit Chinese government has vowed to further solidify the "all weather friendship" between the two countries with increased trade, bilateral and people to people contacts. They are to propel level of economic cooperation in diverse sectors on fast trajectory as an important plank of comprehensive strategic partnership. It is also vowed to make continuous efforts to strengthen good-neighborly relations and friendship, develop mutually beneficial cooperation and deepen strategic partnership of cooperation which serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples and contributes to peace and development in the region

ON GOING PROJECTS

Today as the global and regional situation is complicated and getting even more complex with the passage of time, there is a need to expand the scope of existing bilateral relations to face the challenges posed by global and regional geo-strategic environment. China is working on several new ventures with Pakistan. Pakistan is in need of a long term solid planning and coalition with China. Instead of taking mere financial assistance it is imperative to enhance bilateral cooperation on sound footing in diverse sectors including infrastructure, energy, telecommunication, agriculture, industry, minerals, trade, disaster relief and space technology. Both sides have to strengthen strategic partnership in all dimensions, reinvigorate the multi-faceted bilateral relations, intensify economic cooperation and foster people to people contacts in the coming years.

The two countries have recently agreed to fast track the implementation of the Five Year Development Program on Economic Cooperation and make full use of the Free Trade Agreement in Goods and Investment and Pakistan-China Joint Investment Company. The two sides signed the (a)'Agreement on economic and technical cooperation (b) Amending Protocol to Free Trade Agreement (c) Framework Agreement on Cooperation in the field of mineral (d) MoU on Cooperation between the Ministry of Land Resources of PRC and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources of Pakistan (e) Agreement on environmental Protection (f) Framework agreement for cooperation in the field of radio and television (g) Paksat-IR Satellite procurement contract (h) MoU on scientific collaboration in agricultural research and technical cooperation (i) Agreement on properties exchange between the ministry of Foreign Affairs of PRC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Pakistan

(j) Cooperation agreement between Beijing Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Natural History of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. (k) MoU on cooperation between Cricket Association of the PRC and the Pakistan Cricket Board. (l) MoU on project of X-Ray container/vehicle inspection system

Amongst other projects China will also launch a telecommunication satellite, named PakSat-1R, for Pakistan in 2011. It has handed over a second F 22P frigate to Pakistan at an impressive launching ceremony of the vessel held at Hudong Shipyard. Chinese government has also extended one million dollars for the earthquake victims of Balochistan. A prominent Chinese power generating entrepreneur is interested to make investment to the tune of $ 1.7 billion for generating low cost hydel electricity in Pakistan.

It is also contemplated to jointly establish National Electronics Complex of Pakistan (NECOP). The total amount of the contract is estimated at around US $ 300 million, covering civilian, information technology and defense electronic domains in Pakistan. Through the establishment of NECOP, CETC will help Pakistan achieve indigenous research and development and production capabilities after providing sophisticated training and technical assistance packages by fully utilizing local resources. CETC is the largest state-owned Chinese enterprise, specializing in the field of defense electronics, information technology, public security, space, transportation, energy and education. According to Wall Street Journal, "Pakistan has secured China's help to build two new nuclear-power reactors". This is aimed to produce additional 680 megawatts of power an year. The deal is in fact a good step especially when we've almost drowned economy with round $4.5 billions financing gap. Chinese constructions companies would participate in the upcoming mega housing projects of Pakistan. They are to take part in the construction of one million houses.

CONCLUSION:

Pakistan and China intend to propel level of economic cooperation in diverse sectors on fast trajectory as an important plank of comprehensive strategic partnership. The two countries should also make continuous efforts to strengthen good-neighborly relations and friendship, develop mutually beneficial cooperation and deepen strategic partnership of cooperation which serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples and contributes to peace and development in the region. Because of the financial crisis, China's economic clout has soared relative to the United States. It has recently begun to flex its economic muscles to exercise political power. And that makes China's role as a potential savior all the more important. The question that needs to be asked is whether China, with its new found economic power, will extract a higher price for its support than it has done in the past, and how far we will go to pay for that support.