Pak-China Ties: Dynamics and Prospects

October 10, 2017 Asia , China , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , Pakistan , POLITICS

Reuters photo

 

By

Saliha Khalid

 

Since establishing diplomatic ties in 1951, China and Pakistan have enjoyed a close and mutually beneficial relationship. At first it was just traditional diplomatic relations, but it was the year 1962, the Sino-India war which opened the eyes of both nations. Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China in 1950 and remained a steadfast ally during Beijing’s period of international isolation throughout the upcoming decades especially in the 1960s and early 1970s. China has long provided Pakistan with major military, technical, and economic assistance, including the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology and equipment. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto; the then foreign minister of Pakistan is termed as the real architect of these relations.

 

Pakistan enjoys cultural, social, economic and trade relations with China. The friendship between both countries encompasses defense, energy production, industrial infrastructure, space technology, tourism, medicine and engineering along with the students exchange programs. These two countries have proved that no ideological differences can create a gap between the two neighboring countries. Although there is a big difference between the political systems of both countries, they never let these differences come to their relations and history has witnessed that the relations between them remained stable, committed towards excellence, based on cooperation and are based on mutual understanding.

 

Their relations are based on the “principles of non-interference in internal affairs”. Moreover, when Pakistan signed SEATO, China never criticized Pakistan but the alliance, because China knew that it was the need of Pakistan to join the alliance for security of its territorial integrity from Indian aggression. Furthermore, China has supported Pakistan during Pak-India wars and trying her level best to make Pakistan solid at defense; she has also increased the technological and material support to the military of Pakistan, because she wants to see a strong and stable Pakistan at every level.

 

Usually Pakistani and Chinese leaders and people use six expressions to describe this unique relationship: it is higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, sweeter than honey, stronger than steel, all-weather and time-tested relationship, and to make these relations stronger, the year 2011 was celebrated as the friendship year. The friendly relations between China and Pakistan are not only beneficial for these two countries but also for world and regional peace.

 

Pakistan was one of those first states which started the diplomatic relations with newly independent China. She got her independence in 1949 and after one year she started to advance her relations through diplomatic relations from Beijing. On May 21, 1951, the two countries officially established their diplomatic relations. In the same year when China entered the Korean War to safeguard her security, Pakistan abstained from voting on the General Assembly resolution branding China as an aggressor. This stand of Pakistan strengthened Pak-China relations and it was also appreciated by Chinese leaders.

 

In order to continue and make it a long lasting friendship, these two countries signed an agreement relating to their border on March 2nd 1963. As a result of this agreement “Pakistan gained 750 square miles of territory containing grazing lands and salt mines which had been under the actual possession of the Chinese.” In 1963 both countries signed a border agreement and in January of that year the first trade agreement was signed between them. These agreements not only supported their mutual interests but also strengthened their relations, this agreement resulting in Pakistan being the main cotton exporter to China.

 

During the 1965 crisis China also supported Pakistan and this support left a deep impact on the people of Pakistan, a year later the President Liu Shaoqi visiting Pakistan which was remarkable. When Ayub Khan visited China in March 1965 the welcome according to him was described as ‘magnificent, enthusiastic and colorful.’ He held cordial meetings with Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou and spoke of ‘lasting friendship and fruitful cooperation’ with China.

 

Furthermore, in 1970, while speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, the then President Yahya Khan assured the relations with China as “cornerstone of Pakistan’s policy”. After the tragedy of the Fall of Dhaka, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto also visited China in January 1972, because China has always supported Pakistan, this time she assuring the extension of its economic, diplomatic and military assistance.

 

Throughout history the leaders from both countries visited each other, discussing regional problems and strengthening each other mainly in the fields of economy and military. China has supported Pakistan on every step, even helping them to establish a strong defense system; it would also be right to say that China is the largest arms supplier to Pakistan. History witnessed that both states never left each other alone even in heavy crises, since from the recognizing of China as an independent state Pakistan supported China in all Chinese concerned problems and gave access to Chinese products towards the world market. China has also supported Pakistan at every step either it could be tension with India or another security and economic crisis.

 

As the world is changing very rapidly so the states also change their respective strategies and policies to ensure bigger and effective roles in the changing world. China and Pakistan have also evolved their relations according to the needs of the twenty first century. Cooperation against terrorism and China’s support in eliminating terrorism in Pakistan is unprecedented. Moreover, after controlling the menace of terrorism both countries initiated projects beneficial for them. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the epic of these initiatives and will not only bring prosperity in Pakistan but also in the rural parts of China, which are now agrarian.

 

CPEC is the linking bridge of different projects of China’s One Belt One Road Initiative and will provide shortest route for China to reach Central Asia, Russia and onto Europe. It will bring another opportunity for Pakistani and Chinese nationals to come closer to each other and move forward for a common future based on mutual understanding and cooperation oriented towards the prosperity of their countries and the region. Although some countries have come in direct rivalry to these projects it is almost impossible to have an impact as other than collaboration on global and regional forums, the bases of bilateral relations include the blood of the laborers of Karakoram Highway and Chinese nationals being targeted in different terrorist activities in Pakistan. In a nutshell, one can conclude that bilateral relations encompassing more than five decades are now turning into fruit bearing, flourishing and thriving relations.

 

 

 

 

Saliha Khalid

Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan

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