Pakistan, China reinforcing strategic cooperation


By Salman Bashir

Pakistan and China’s friendship and strategic cooperative partnership is one which is deep-rooted and time-tested. It is an all-weather friendship that has withstood changes in the global and regional environment for almost seven decades and continues to flourish with renewed vigor even today.
Both countries pride themselves on referring to each other as ‘iron brothers.” Geographically contiguous, Pakistan and China enjoy shared aspirations for development, while peace and stability has imbued their cooperation with dynamism — something which is rare to find in interstate relations.
The two have now decided to upgrade their strategic dialogue mechanism at the foreign ministers’ level.
The first Pakistan-China Ministerial strategic dialogue took place in Beijing from March 17 to 20, where Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held in-depth talks on regional and global issues with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.

Qureshi was also welcomed by Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and Politburo member Yang Jiechi. During the course of the talks, the Chinese side assured Qureshi of China’s unwavering support for Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, with a promise to work toward its socio-economic development.
Pakistan, for its part, expressed its deep appreciation for the important role played by China in de-escalating the tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi.
China’s calls for restraint and resolution of disputes through peaceful dialogue were well meaning and based on principles. Both sides underlined the fact that state sovereignty and territorial integrity are cardinal principles of the UN Charter and international law.
The reiteration of this position effectively negates India’s stance to commit aggression against its neighbors by invoking the right to self-defense. India’s doctrinal innovation of ‘preemption’ is extremely dangerous for global peace as ‘unilateralism’ and ‘exceptionalism’ are nothing but a mockery of the UN document.

India’s inclination to establish its military hegemony in South Asia was effectively answered by Pakistan after the Indian attack on Balakot. India lost three aircrafts within 30 minutes of its misadventure against Pakistan, while at least two Indian fighter jets were shot down by the Pakistan Air Force.
Additionally, India’s threat of missile attacks on Pakistan were returned by Islamabad’s posture of a ‘three for one’ retaliation in kind. China, along with other major powers, was deeply concerned over the rapid escalation of hostilities between the two countries and played a significant diplomatic role in containing the crisis.
India remains stoutly opposed to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In a strategic sense, one of the drivers for India’s animus against Pakistan is the success of the CPEC.
Pakistan and China, for their part, have agreed to continue the smooth implementation of CPEC projects, especially its Special Economic Zones. Both sides rejected the negative propaganda against CPEC and expressed their strong resolve to safeguard CPEC from all kinds of threats.
Furthermore, the two sides have agreed to enhance cooperation against terrorism by strengthening communication and coordination in relevant fields. The Chinese side highly appreciated Pakistan’s commitment and efforts to counter terrorism. Pakistan and China are on the same page where Afghanistan is concerned too, with both countries expressing support for the ongoing peace talks and the need for an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led process. They have also called upon all stakeholders in Afghanistan to become part of an intra-Afghan dialogue and urged all sides to find a durable solution to the conflict.
The two countries have also expressed their commitment to translating their leadership’s vision into reality, which is to build a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era. 
Loosely translated, it means giving a more tangible form to their economic, security and defense cooperation and strengthening consultations and coordination on all global and regional issues. Both Pakistan and China are mindful of the changes in the global strategic, political, and economic environment. At a time of increasing uncertainty and geo-political flux, it has become imperative that rational voices are heard and right-minded initiatives are encouraged to chart the course for the future well-being of generations to follow. 
(Salman Bashir is a Pakistani diplomat who served as the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan. Twitter: @SalmanB_Isb)