Beijing, Nov 5: Ties between China and Pakistan will be significantly deepened across a range of areas, from economic and cultural cooperation to foreign policy in regional as well as global platforms, as per the Joint Statement issued by both countries at the conclusion of Prime Minister Imran Khan's maiden visit to Beijing.
The statement, however, makes no mention of any 'immediate support' for Pakistan. Prior to their departure for the visit, the Pakistani delegation had talked of seeking balance of payments support from China through this visit, and Prime Minister Khan reiterated to journalists in Beijing on Thursday that he sought support to build foreign exchange reserves and assistance to avoid a possible International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.
Instead the statement only says that both sides will "maintain frequent exchange of visits and meetings at the leadership level" and further bilateral meeting will be held on the sidelines of major multilateral conferences and events.
"During his visit, PM Imran Khan called on Xi Jinping, President of China, held talks with Li Keqiang, Premier, and met Li Zhanshu, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, and Wang Qishan, Vice President of China respectively" the statement says, suggesting Premier Keqiang was the key point person in the talks with the Pakistani PM.
The PM also gave a speech at the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and visited the First China International Import Expo held in Shanghai.
The statement hailed the ties between Pakistan and China, saying they had "withstood the test of time, notwithstanding the changes in domestic, regional and international environments."
In deepening the ties further, the statement says the two countries will build on the China-Pakistan All Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership and the China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future, "in line with the principles set forth by the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good-neighbourly Relations" that the two countries signed 2005.
"Both sides will continue to view China-Pakistan relations from a strategic and long-term perspective" the statement says at the outset as it starts to lay out the terms of the future cooperation both countries agreed to undertake.
The Chinese side also "appreciated Pakistan's important role in promoting regional peace, stability and security and efforts for the peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues with its neighbours" the statement says, adding that China "supports Pakistan’s efforts for improvement of Pakistan-India relations and for settlement of outstanding disputes between the two countries."
On the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), both sides "expressed satisfaction that rapid progress has been made in all areas especially in the energy sector" and underlined "their complete consensus on the future trajectory of the CPEC".
The language appears to be aimed at rolling back some of the PTI's commitments to 'review' CPEC projects, as well as some of the criticism it has levelled at the energy projects in the past.
The Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), which is the steering arm of CPEC, will 'explore new areas of cooperation' and its 8th session will be held in Beijing before the end of the year. The last session was held in Islamabad in November 2017, during which the Long Term Plan was finalised.
Both sides agreed to accelerate work on Gwadar and its auxiliary projects, as well dismissing 'the growing negative propaganda against CPEC' while underscoring their 'determination to safeguard the CPEC projects from all threats.'
"The Chinese side expressed its appreciation for the measures taken for the security of Chinese personnel and projects in Pakistan." The shape and direction of CPEC is now set to change, with a growing emphasis on 'industrial capacity including through joint ventures in priority areas and relocation of labour-intensive industry and SMEs collaboration.'
The growing trade imbalance between Pakistan and China will be addressed through the second China Pakistan Free Trade Agreement, which the two sides 'agreed to conclude as early as possible' while continuing with discussions on an agreement on trade in services as well.
Both the countries also agreed to boost cooperation in a wide range of areas, including tourism, maritime issues, navigation security, marine economy, resources, research and environmental protection.
In addition to marine economy, emerging technologies like nanotech, biotech and ICT will also see strengthened collaboration to increase their contribution in health, agriculture, water, energy and food security. Space cooperation will also be promoted, building on the launch of Pakistan's Remote Sensing Satellite earlier this year.
Cooperation will now be enhanced in areas like climate change, desertification control, desalination, water management, afforestation and ecological restoration, wetland protection and restoration, wildlife protection, forestry industry development, disaster management and risk reduction among others. All these are areas of cooperation that were already agreed upon in earlier discussions with the Chinese side that ended with the finalisation of the LTP in November last year.
The Joint Statement shows that the evolution of CPEC has now come to a point where these cooperative steps are ready to be activated.
In addition, the statement points at social sector cooperation without giving many specifics, only to say areas like "agriculture, education, health, poverty alleviation, safe drinking water and vocational training" will be increasing parts of the policy dialogue going forward.
Disease surveillance and control, as well as vaccine production and "traditional medicine" will also be part of the dialogue.Both sides agreed to enhance people-to-people contacts, pointing at the 25,000 Pakistani students already enrolled in Chinese universities. "China will offer additional scholarships for Pakistani students" the statements says.
Cooperation in this area will go beyond to think tanks, vocational training, fellowships as well as "culture, arts, broadcasting, films, publication and sports".Both sides will discuss further collaboration in museums, and 'the possibility to organise an Ancient Pakistan and Gandhara Artifacts Exhibition in Beijing.' (UNI)