*Pakistan China at 70: Foreign Ministers of both countries address conference, Second Phase of CPEC to focus on industry and agriculture*
Islamabad: In commemoration of 70 years of Pakistan-China relations, the Pakistan- China Institute (PCI) arranged a conference titled, “Pakistan-China At 70: A Unique Bilateral Partnership”. The conference brought together China and Pakistan’s key government officials, academicians, journalists, students, and civil society members under one roof. The conference featured 24 esteemed panelists from Pakistan and China talk with one voice about the importance of upholding Pakistan-China all-weather strategic partnership.
This conference was divided into four sessions, in addition to an opening session. At the start, an exclusive 10-minute documentary production of the PCI was played for the audience titled at “Pakistan-China at 70: A Unique Bilateral Relationship” along with national anthems of Pakistan and China.
During the opening session, Chairman of Pakistan-China Institute, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed extended his heartfelt felicitations to the people of Pakistan and China for being fraternal and time-tested brothers who have always enjoyed neighborly relations. He highlighted how China has changed the destiny of one-fifth of humanity by lifting 800 million people out of poverty. He also highlighted how BRI has brought together 140 countries of different continents together through connectivity, ports, pipelines, economy and energy. He also said that Pakistan is fortunate that the pilot and flagship project of the BRI, CPEC, is at the centerpiece of this global initiative to promote Corridors, Culture and Connectivity. Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that Pakistan and China relations are unique because they are not transactional, they are not tactical, and they are not against any third country.
This was followed by Keynote Addresses by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and Wang Yi, State Councillor and Foreign Minister of People’s Republic of China. Foreign Minister Qureshi talked about Pakistan-China friendship which he said is rooted in the heart of cooperation between the two countries. He talked of the cooperation between both countries especially during the coronavirus pandemic as China has so far donated Pakistan 3.5 million doses of vaccine, and said that Pakistan has always supported Chinese core interests. Pakistan also stood with the Chinese stance on making vaccine a global public good. He apprised the audience that the shared future of Pakistan and China is to compile infrastructure, knowledge and make it about the people. He talked about the educational cooperation between the two countries which will also ensure cultural collaboration as well.
Foreign Minister Qureshi talked of Pakistanis’ aspirations for peace and stability, and how China is an integral part of enabling a prosperous Pakistan. He also highlighted numerous celebrations in commemoration of 70 years of bilateral relationship between Pakistan and China being held across both countries, and especially thanked PCI for arranging this event with a dedicated panel of experts.
In his video address Chinese Foreign Minister and State Counselor, Wang Yi highlighted that China and Pakistan are all weather friends who understand and respect each other despite social and cultural differences. He stressed the need for practicing multilateralism, and said that the zero-sum game emanating from the cold war mentality should be rejected, and all countries should work together. He also said that moving forward, Pakistan and China should join hands in safeguarding international peace, engage in dialogue with political parties of Pakistan, and encourage other countries to join against regional security threats.
While affirming commitment to Pakistan, Wang Yi said that no matter how the world changes, China will always stand firmly with Pakistan. He also thanked Senator Mushahid Hussain for promoting Pakistan-China friendship.
After the opening session, first session on A Model State to State Partnership- Historical context was held. Ambassador Sha Zukang expressed sincere gratitude to Pakistan. He apprised that China and Pakistan should focus on the CPEC and must focus that the job is well done. He said that CPEC is a two-way project of the BRI, which is inculcating new experience and expertise in both countries.
Lt General (Retd.) Talat Masood highlighted how in the aftermath of 1965 war, China gave military assistance to Pakistan. Trailing through history, he said that as the two countries celebrate 70 years of their relationship, their shared future is bright and rests primarily on Pakistan’s own domestic matters.
Mr. Muhammad Jehanzeb Khan, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission talked about how China is a great friend that has given Pakistan the opportunity to develop. He said it is remarkable how two culturally-diverse countries are able to maintain such a close relationship.
The second Session, was themed “People to People Connectivity- The foundation of Pakistan- China friendship”. Mr. Shakeel Ramay, Advisor, Asian Institute of Eco civilization Research & Development moderated the discussion. Mr. Mustafa Hyder Sayed, Executive Director, PCI labeled people-to-people connectivity pivotal to Pakistan-China relations. He highlighted the role of PCI in enabling youth exchanges, bilateral discussions, and opening up dialogue on the dynamic relationship shared by both countries. Moreover, he said that as a think tank, PCI has connected young people with China through targeted approach, and will continue to take Pakistan-China relations to new heights. Professor Li Xiguang, Chair of the Pakistan Studies Center at Tsinghua University said that the origin of friendship between Pakistan and China started years ago. He traced the spread of Buddhism to Pakistan and labeled it an important country for a belief system that has a lot of significance for Chinese people. Mr. Jamal Shah, Chairman Hunerkada, College of visual and performing arts labeled Chinese cultural heritage an agent of change for the Chinese people. Moreover, he added that Pakistan needs to learn from China’s policy makers for investing in the country’s cultural heritage. Ms. Ambreen Shah, Vice President Legal & Corporate Affairs, China Power Hub, Generation Company (Pvt) Limited said that in her experience, the Chinese people are very positive, progressive and humble. She said the Chinese value feedback and input, and do not carry out any gender discrimination, keeping respect and loyalty as the main ethos of their work. She also said that in China women hold key positions in companies as Chinese reward hard work.
The third session was themed “Pakistan-China’s Shared Interests in the Changing Regional Scenario” and was moderated by Ambassador Khalid Masood who highlighted the importance of understanding changing regional scenario in the post-pandemic world, as global alliances are being reshaped. His remarks were followed by Professor Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman, Chairman of PM Task Force on Science and Technology who said that Pakistan and China are collaborating on COVID research, and also working for educational exchanges. He also highlighted how the two will keep up their work in the field of medicine as well. Professor Wang Wen, Executive Dean, Chongyang Institute, Renmin University addressed the audience virtually and highlighted how the process of China’s development is an outcome of the Pakistan China relationship. Ai Ping, Vice Chairmen of Chinese Government Association of Friendship with Foreign Countries said that friendship between people of China and Pakistan remains close as the two celebrate 70 years of bilateral relationship. He also said that CPEC is the flagship project.