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Working together for a shared future

Pakistan is the first country in the Muslim world to formally recognize the People’s Republic of China and officially establish diplomatic relations on May 21, 1951. The 1.4 billion Chinese will never forget this. Under the able leadership of generations from both countries, China and Pakistan have supported each other as they navigated the vicissitudes of the international landscape. This relationship has weathered all storms and stood the test of time. Throughout her 73-year journey, she has always been at the forefront and set a shining example for interstate relations.

Over the past 73 years, China and Pakistan have remained good neighbors, partners and friends, treating each other with sincerity and respect. The two sides have fulfilled the original ambitions of diplomacy and have always respected and supported each other’s development efforts. Pakistan has firmly adhered to the One China principle and has wholeheartedly supported China on issues relating to China’s core interests. China has responded to Pakistan by helping protect its national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and supports the latter to play a greater role in international and regional affairs. China and Pakistan have continued the “iron core” friendship and deepened the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership.

Over the past 73 years, the two countries have maintained high-level contacts and increased mutual political trust. Since 2013, the President of Pakistan has made state visits or attended events in China six times, and the Prime Minister has visited China or attended meetings as many as 12 times. In 2015, President Xi Jinping made his state visit to Pakistan, and the two sides strengthened bilateral ties into an all-weather strategic cooperative partnership. In early June this year, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will make his first official visit to China after the formation of the PML(N)-led coalition government in Islamabad in March.

Over the past 73 years, China and Pakistan have remained good partners for win-win cooperation. The trade volume between the two countries has grown from over $10 million in the beginning to over $20 billion today. As the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has steadily advanced, promoting Pakistan’s economic development and bringing tangible benefits to local people. A week ago, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar visited Beijing and co-chaired the Fifth China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, his Chinese counterpart. Both sides agreed to accelerate progress on major connectivity projects including upgrading of ML-1, Gwadar Port, realignment of Karakoram Highway Phase II, strengthening cooperation in agriculture, industrial parks, mining, information technology and other areas, and increasing Pakistan’s capacity. for sustainable development.

The year 2024 also marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Through 75 years of persistent hard work, the Chinese people, under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, have turned China from a backward and impoverished country into the second largest economy in the world. Several hundred million people in rural areas were lifted out of poverty, a miracle in human history. China’s economy registered a growth of 5.2% in 2023 and is expected to grow by around 5% in 2024, with greater progress towards high-quality development. China will continue to be a source of global growth and create more opportunities for all countries.

One thing that has made China’s remarkable development possible is aligning its development with security requirements. We believe that security and development are like two wings of one bird and two wheels of one vehicle. On the one hand, security is an essential condition for development. Only with national security and social stability can the economy and society enjoy sustainable development. On the other hand, development offers a guarantee of safety. Only by promoting sustainable socio-economic development can we lay a solid material foundation for national prosperity, people’s happiness and well-being, and social harmony and political stability. Development that ignores safety entails hidden dangers and is unsustainable. In the future, we must not only promote development with security, but also ensure security with development.

The March 26 Bisham terrorist attack that claimed five innocent Chinese engineers has once again exposed the ugliness of the terrorist threat in Pakistan that the CPEC faces. China strongly condemns the cowardly attack and hopes that Pakistan will promptly bring the perpetrators to justice and take all possible measures to ensure maximum security of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in Pakistan. We recognize Pakistan’s contributions and sacrifices in the fight against terrorism over the years and stand ready to strengthen bilateral cooperation to flush out the terrorist menace in the country, and ensure that future efforts to strengthen cooperation between Undermining China and Pakistan will never succeed.

Currently, both China and Pakistan are at an important stage of development. Pursuing high-quality development and promoting high-level opening-up, China is working to build itself into a great modern socialist country in all respects and to promote the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through Chinese modernization. Pakistan, on its part, is making every effort to achieve socio-economic transformation and greater development. I have full confidence in this shared noble cause for China and Pakistan and believe that the unbreakable and long-standing friendship will flourish and reach new heights every day.

Let every soul of both countries work towards a better and shared future of this common community.

May the diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan last forever. Long live China-Pakistan!

Zhao Shiren
The writer is the Consul General of China in Lahore.