Conference on “Pakistan-China Friendship: Taking it to New Heights”
One day Conference on “Pakistan-China Friendship: Taking it to New Heights” was organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) on March 26, 2014 at Islamabad Hotel. Following are the proceedings of the conference.
Ambassador Sohail Amin, President IPRI, in his welcome address highlighted the importance of the Conference and the emerging trends in Pakistan-China relations. He said that the topic was a challenging one as it focuses on exploring the new avenues of cooperation.
The first speaker of the conference, Mr. Fazal-ur-Rehman, Director Strategic Studies Institute, Islamabad spoke on “Exploring New Vistas of Economic Cooperation.” He identified the national consensus as a unique characteristic of Pak-China relations. He said that relations among political forces and military institutions had been strengthened since 1960s but economic relations remained under-developed till 1990s and were re-prioritized in late 1990s. He said that the government had been pursuing a persistent policy to develop economic relations. He highlighted various institutional benchmarks, mechanism of exchange of visits and signing of MOUs. He said that since last ten years over 300 agreements and MOUs have been signed such as Pak-China Business Forum, Free Trade Agreements in goods and services, Nuclear Power Plants. He said that Chinese government had also encouraged private sector to further the economic cooperation and subsequently more than 130 Chinese companies had concluded over 50 MOUs. He talked about the benefits of economic corridor between Gwadar and Kashger and its impact on economy of Pakistan. He further said that the establishment of special economic zones along the economic corridor would help to enhance security, development and social cohesion and would reinvigorate Pakistan’s economic progress by creating economic interdependence.
The second speaker of the conference Ambassador Salman Bashir, former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan spoke on “Strategic Dimensions of Pakistan-China Relations.” He said that Pakistan and China had always been on the same side on international issues and it was due to intangibles that no theoretical construct of international relations could explain. He said that fundamental change had been taking place in the world and Pakistan and China needed to understand each other and benefit from Chinese experience because China was the only state that presented the model of a functional state. He said that Pakistan should be beneficiary of the rise of China as East Asian economies progressed with the rise of Japan. He highlighted that G2 a new phraseology had emerged and conviction always stemmed from national interest. Pakistan had to identify those interests of China and presently China’s strategic priority was only development. According to him, China had been using pragmatic approach in inter-state relations and it did not expect immediate reciprocity. He said that Pakistan needed to streamline its system and to create enabling environment to give Chinese more space economically.
The third speaker of the conference Mr. Yao Wen, Charge d’ affaires, Embassy of Peoples Republic of China, in his keynote speech said that Pakistan and China friendship was all weather and time tested as both shared mutual understanding and support from strategic priorities to economic and trade cooperation. He said that both states had decided to forge the community of shared destiny and Pak-China Economic Corridor served as the most important platform for achieving the objective as it would increase the flow of resources and would create opportunities for the people. He gave various statistics of increased trade between the two states and said that collaboration among different think tanks had also increased. He also listed some ongoing joint projects. He emphasized Chinese government’s policy of fighting three evils but said that China supported Pakistani government’s efforts to develop and implement national security policies keeping in view its own interest. He said that there was need to enhance people to people contact and exchange of students and teachers. He said that Pakistan and China needed to join hands to achieve goals of shared destiny.
Ambassador Inamul Haque, former Foreign Minister and Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, in his remarks said that Pakistan and China had convergence of strategic interests and their relations continue to grow further. He said that younger generation in China had a different orientation and outlook towards Pakistan and people to people contacts, friendly exchanges and learning of each other’s language would help to transform the image of two states.
Senator Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq, Chief Guest of the Conference, said that Pakistan and China had enjoyed close friendly ties and their unique friendship had entered into a deep mutual trust and confidence that could not be found in any other part of the world. He said that both sides had recognized the importance of enhanced economic and trade relations. He said that the development of Gwadar port would help in meeting China’s energy needs and would further boost bilateral relations.
Pakistan and China have convergence of strategic interests and have developed strong political and defence relations over more than five decades. Given the changing global dynamics there is realization of developing close trade relations between the two countries. During the Conference people to people contacts were identified as the least developed sector in bilateral relations so it was stressed to enhance this contact and promote the learning of Chinese language that is the main hindrance in developing non-traditional cooperation.