55-YEAR OF PAK-CHINA FRIENDSHIP

Shaukat Aziz said Pak-China relations are a model

FROM: SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI Bureau Chief, Islamabad
June 05 - 11, 2006

The 55th anniversary of the establishment of Diplomatic relations between Peoples Republic of China and Islamic Republic of Pakistan was celebrated great enthusiasm in Islamabad on May 22, 2006.

Addressing a Seminar on "55 years of Pak-China Relations" organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz expressed the confidence that all weather and time tested relations with China will continue to grow in future to benefit the people of both countries, the region and the world at large. Both the countries are committed to pursuing relations between each other and with other countries on the basis of principles of peaceful coexistence, sovereign equality and non-interference, he added.

Shaukat Aziz said Pak-China relations are a model between any two countries and both the countries have persuaded their friendship with the objectives of mutual benefit and never at the cost of any other country. Our ties are so strong that relationship with third party cannot harm our mutual ties. Strategic partnership between the two countries is manifestation of our multi faceted relationship, which has become of unique nature. People and government of Pakistan are committed and determined to further cement these ties in all fields, he said, Adding that our special relationship is overwhelmingly supported by our people which is unshakeable and this relationship is not based on transient interest or temporary objectives but it is a long term partnership for peace, stability and prosperity at the bilateral, regional and international levels.

Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan desires enhanced cooperation with China particularly in defence, security, diplomacy, economy, trade, technology, education, healthcare and people to people contact for creating new avenues of further cooperation and mutual partnership. He hoped that treaty of friendship, Free Trade Agreement and Preferential Trade Agreements between the two countries will open new vistas of cooperation in all fields and trade between the two countries will increase manifold.

Shaukat Aziz said a revitalized Pakistan has also emerged as an anchor for peace and stability in the region and its is now in a position to leverage its strategic location at the cross roads of South, Central and West Asia to promote multi dimensional corridors of cooperation including energy, electricity grids, transpirations and trade relations in the region. He said our ports at Karachi and Gwadar can serve as the shortest access to the sea for Central Asia as well as Western China. He said trade between the two countries is rising impressively and we will be shortly undertaking upgradation project of Karakorum Highway to convert it into an all weather corridor to facilitate bilateral trade. Furthermore, he said we are exploring the feasibility of constructing an oil pipeline from the port of Gwadar with Chinese assistance up to Western China, which will considerably reduce distance and time for oil transportation to China. Both the countries are now working for further expansion of cooperation in peaceful use of nuclear energy under appropriate IAEA safeguards besides promoting cooperation in space technology, he added.

Answering questions, the Prime Minister expressed the confidence that relations between the two countries during the next five years and beyond will continue to rise as we have built these ties on solid foundations. To another question the Prime Minister said Central and South Asian cooperation is imperative for economic growth of the region and for enhancing linkage between the two regions, stability in Afghanistan is vital. He said peace and stability in that country will provide linkage to the both regions and allow them to exploit their immense potential. He said Pakistan is already actively negotiating with some Central Asian countries to create interlink for electricity import. To a question regarding India US nexus, Shaukat Aziz said with the emergence of China as world power, various countries are busy in repositioning themselves but China is totally capable to handle the emerging challenges.

Similar warm feelings were expressed by President and Secretary General Pakistan Muslim League, Ch. Shujat Hussain and Mushahid Hussain Syed respectively at a function arranged at PML House to celebrate the occasion which was also attended by the Chinese ambassador in Pakistan.

Pakistan is working to boost nuclear cooperation with long time ally China to improve technology for power generation. Upset over a US decision to supply civilian nuclear technology to its rival, India, Pakistan has shown interest in buying nuclear reactors from China as well as Western countries to meet its growing needs. "A significant area of cooperation has been the harnessing of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes under international safeguards for the production of electricity,". China helped build a 300-megawatt nuclear power plant for Pakistan in 1999 while construction work for another Chinese supplied nuclear plant of the same capacity was launched in December.

To celebrate the occasion, the Ambassador of China Zhang Chunziang and Mrs. Chungxiang hosted a dinner which was followed by a cultural show which was attended by Pakistanis from many walks of life, especially those who have, or had, any connection with China; high ranking military officers; many politicians from the treasury benches as well as the opposition and a number of diplomats. The guest of honour was Chairman Senate Mohammmedmian Soomro.

It was on 21st May 1951, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the People's Republic China established official diplomatic relations although Pakistan recognized China on 4th January 1950s. Maj. Gen. N.A.M. Raza was the first Pakistani Ambassador in China who served stint from 1962-1966. Similarly Han Nianlong was the first Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan who served here from 1951 to 1956.

The friendship of Pakistan and China is known as an exemplary one throughout the world and no doubt both countries attached great importance to this relationship and also with the passage of time Pakistan and China have developed an exemplary State-to-State relationship on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China 55 years ago, the Pakistan China good neghbourly and friendly relations fostered and promoted by the successive generations of leaders of both countries have not looked back and on constant forward march and bilateral cooperation remain mutually beneficial.

"The bedrock of our bilateral bonds is a strong faith and trust in each other that we have nurtured with care and devotion", President General Pervez Musharraf words reflect the importance of Pakistan-China relations which are commonly known as friendship higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the oceans and sweeter than honey. This friendship rooted in the ethos of the peoples of the two countries.

The recent very successful visit of President General Pervez Musharraf to China from February 19-23, 2006, on the invitation of his Chinese counterpart President Hu Jintao was termed as historic and a milestone in the Pakistan and China relations which ended with a positive note. The visit was the official opening of the 55th anniversary celebrations of the establishment of Pakistan and China diplomatic relations. During this state visit the President of Pakistan had wide-ranging meeting with his Chinese counterpart.

China with a population of more then 1.3 billion is one fifth of the world, having a literacy rate of 90.9% thus leading not only Asia but emerging as a potential leading economic power of the world. At present China is having 472 international and national airports, road communication starched to more than 18,00,000 kms and railway track length is 71,000 kms 23 provinces. 5 autonomous regions and 4 municipalities are directly under the control of the Central government. China has a world within a world, assibilating 56 ethnic groups, wherein 91.9% are Han Chinese with Muslims around 21 million.

China with its growth rate of 9.4% has surprised the whole world with its GDP at $2.2 trillion in 2005. The Pakistan and China import and export are $ 4.26 billion whereas the volume of China imports from Pakistan is $830 million and export to Pakistan is $3.43 billion. The balance of trade between Pakistan and China is not very impressive and needs special attention for further positive development. The two sides are presently negotiating a Free trade Agreement (FTA), which aims to push total trade exchange exceeding $8 billion by the year 2008.

President Pervez Musharraf during his visit to China mentioned that the Gwadar Port project on the Arabian Sea coast in Balochistan through which crude oil imports from Iran and Africa can be transported to the northwest China's Kijiang Uygur autonomous region through the land route and for this purposes a feasibility study is being conducted which sill shortcut compared to the one via the Straits of Molacca. China contributed about $200 million for the construction of the port's first phase, which was completed last April when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Pakistan and now during the high level contacts China has reportedly also agreed to finance the second phase of the project. It will have nine more berths and approach channels and storage terminals. China's assistance to Pakistan with development projects in the fields of communication, nuclear energy, defence production and training, health and education has been appreciative.