China assures Pakistan of ‘firm’ support in defending its ‘sovereignty’

Published on Mar 22, 2022 02:56 PM IST
Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in Islamabad to attend the 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as well as to hold a bilateral meeting with “iron brother” and strategic ally Pakistan
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin attends a news conference in Beijing, China. (REUTERS/FILE)
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin attends a news conference in Beijing, China. (REUTERS/FILE)

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi on Monday assured Pakistan of Beijing’s “firm” support in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity “no matter what changes” internationally or within the two countries, in an apparent show of strength against regional rival India

Wang conveyed China’s message of unequivocal support to Pakistan during a joint press conference with counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad.

Wang, who is also the China’s state councillor, is in the capital to attend the 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as well as to hold a bilateral meeting with “iron brother” and strategic ally Pakistan. Qureshi invited Wang as a special guest to attend the two-day conference being held from March 22 to 23. The Chinese foreign minister is attending the OIC meeting for the first time.

In his meeting with Qureshi, Wang proposed that efforts be made in four specific areas: strengthening of bilateral diplomatic ties; accelerating common development and revitalisation, deepening counter-terrorism cooperation, and maintaining closer multilateral coordination.

“First, giving firm support to each other. No matter what changes take place in the international situation and their respective countries,” Wang was quoted as telling Qureshi in an official Chinese readout. “China will stick to its friendly policy toward Pakistan, firmly support the Pakistani people in taking a development path that fits their own national conditions, and support Pakistan in defending its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”

In his first visit to Pakistan since the first outbreak of Covid-19, Wang said the two countries are committed to enhancing strategic coordination and pragmatic cooperation.

China and Pakistan need to have “closer community of a shared future”so as to bring regional peace, stability and prosperity, Wang said.

“China supports Pakistan in severely punishing the perpetrators of the Dasu terrorist attack, appreciates its efforts to strengthen the security of Chinese personnel and projects in Pakistan, and will, as always, help Pakistan improve its law enforcement and security capacity,” Wang also said, referring to a suicide bomb attack in the western province of Khyber-Paktunkhwa which killed at least 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals.

The attack was carried out on the bus heading to the Dasu hydropower project, part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The CPEC is a Sino-Pakistan connectivity project, which includes a network of roads, railway and pipelines between the two countries.

On his end, Qureshi said the two foreign ministers discussed bilateral cooperation, regional situation as well as international issues, including Afghanistan and Ukraine, in a “very comprehensive and detailed meeting”, according to Pakistani media reports.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether OIC members will raise the alleged abuse of Uighur and other Muslim minorities in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Human rights activists have long claimed some one million Uighurs have been held in mass detention in the remote western region.

China has consistently denied the allegations and have said the camps are vocational centres designed to combat extremism, and in late 2019 it said all people in the camps had “graduated”.

At the conference, Wang is expected to push Beijing’s narrative on how well the Communist Party of China (CPC) treats its Muslim minorities. Wang said he was attending the OIC for developing a partnership with the Muslim world, besides promoting unity and cooperation for the multilateralism.

“China and the Islamic world both enjoy a profound history, seek similar values and share historic missions,” Wang said, adding that cooperation between China and the Islamic world is a key part of South-South cooperation.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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