Pakistan, China enjoy long-term relations
Courtesy: Maiza Hameed
“Deeper than the deepest sea, higher than Himalayas and sweeter than honey” the preceding phrase is generally used to highlight the closeness and intimacy of Pak-China relations. Both countries have enjoyed a long-term consistent goodwill towards each other.
Both Pakistan and China are situated in an area that has great geographical importance and hosts almost half of the world’s population. Along with the human resources, the area is also rich in natural material resources. Also, three out of seven declared nuclear states of the world are situated here. Hence the importance of stability in the region and amiable relations between the countries, become a necessity.
China is a fast emerging global power and it has registered fast and sustained economic growth. China share in the world trade has exceeded $620 billion. Its relations with the United States, Japan, European Union and even India have broadened dramatically owing to its profile as world power and its significant role in global politics. Pakistan needs to understand the changing dynamics of world politics and should strengthen its bond with China in terms of bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
The trend of closer regional ties, particularly closer cooperation in the fields of economics and trade is dominating the world politics. China is Pakistan’s second largest trading partner and fourth largest export market. Pakistan is the first South Asian country to sign a free trade agreement with China and also takes lead among other South Asian countries in terms of China’s investment.
In the backdrop of US-India strategic ties Pak-China relations are vital for the supreme interests of both the countries. The course of recent Sino-Pak high level talks, the scope of bilateral ties has expanded and there is a shift in the recent dynamics of their relations as Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning and Development is reported to have said: “In the past, the economic relationship could not match the political one. Now the leadership on both sides has realised that we have to bridge that gap.”
As they say, “Credit should be given where it is due”, the present inflow of foreign investment is the outcome of consistent and persistent efforts of the PML-N government and was initiated immediately after they assumed power in Punjab. Gradually the momentum picked pace and was transferred to Center also. However, provinces like KPK still lag behind owing to the irresponsible attitude of people governing it.
The Pak-China economic corridor in physical terms is a 2000 kilometers highway stretching from Kashgar to Gwadar through khunjrab but in fact this will integrate the economies of the two countries. The project is designed to establish a number of economic zones and physical links connecting both the countries. It will begin a new chapter of economic cooperation in terms of regionalism in South Asia and will subsequently pave the way for progress and prosperity in the region by building pipelines and ports with roads/rail infrastructure generating massive trade and economic activity and opening up of new avenues for the people of two countries which is approximately three billion people of the region.
Sino-Pak relations have entered a new phase and are subject to a change from bilateralism to regionalism and long-term collaboration that is a step towards a comprehensive strategic partnership for peace and development in the world and particularly in the region.
Pakistan needs to focus on its cooperation with China to reap the benefits. The present situation also offers the opportunity to Pakistan to construct a new narrative of the Pak-US relationship that should be based on mutual self-respect and interests rather than vested interests. And also, the China-Pakistan nexus is clearly a case of convergence of interests of the two, in the backdrop of the geopolitics governing the present world order. For the foreseeable future, the Sino-Pakistani strategic nexus will remain an enduring aspect of the China-India-Pakistan triangle.