China, Pak: All weather friends

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijijng Beijing
  • Updated: May 21, 2013 00:48 IST

If one sifts through the hype surrounding Li’s high-profile India visit, it will be clear that Beijing’s seemingly new-found affection for New Delhi is not aimed at short-shrifting Islamabad.

Li heads to Pakistan on Wednesday and will be the first foreign dignitary to meet PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif after his election victory.

Chinese diplomats and academics have clarified and more than often repeated that Beijing-Islamabad relation is an “all weather” one.

Li will address the Pakistan Senate on May 23 at a session specially convened by President Asif Ali Zardari; in 2010 Premier Wen Jiabao had addressed a joint session of the National Assembly and Senate.

“To develop friendly ties with Pakistan is a set policy of successive governments of China. Likewise to develop friendly policy with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy,” Chinese vice-foreign Minister Song Tao said, adding no matter who comes to power in Islamabad the all weather bilateral ties will continue.

Song added that no matter how the international and regional landscapes – a probable indication towards India -- evolve, relations between the two countries will be further consolidated.

The fact that Li's visit is taking place right after elections in Pakistan is full indication of high degree of mutual trust and special friendship between the two countries, Song said while briefing on the Premier’s foreign visits.

He said China hopes the upcoming visit will send positive signals to the people of both countries and the international community that China values its relations with Pakistan and is committed to inheriting the traditional friendship and expanding mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides.

Afghanistan will be on the discussion agenda for the leaders of the two countries.

Last year, Pakistan and China had reiterated their support to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process in a trilateral meeting in Islamabad, which was also attended by Afghanistan.

The two governments are expected to sign at least three major agreements on economic and trade cooperation and China's trade and investment promotion group will also visit the country.

Importantly, Pakistan is also expected to become the fourth international customer of China’s new Beidou satellite navigation system.

Huang Lei, international business director of Beijing BDStar Navigation, which helps promote Beidou, or Compass, in the international market, told China Daily the company will build a network of stations in Pakistan to enhance the location accuracy of Beidou.

These continuously operational reference stations will be built after the two countries sign a cooperation agreement, which will see Pakistan follow in the footsteps of Thailand, Laos and Brunei in becoming a Beidou customer.

Ye Hailin, an anti-terrorist expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, recently said that China could strengthen cooperation with Pakistan and Afghanistan to crack down on overseas terrorist groups, which according to Chinese authorities are active in northwestern Xinjiang province.

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