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Interview with Honorable Mr. LIu Jian Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan

Mehmood-Ul-Hassan Khan

1. What have been contributions of the government of China to flood relief activities so far?

As Pakistan’s close neighbor and all-weather friend, China empathizes with Pakistan for its great loss of life and property inflicted by the severe natural disaster. To help the Pakistani government and people to tide over the difficulties, the Chinese government and people has offered sincere, timely and unconditional assistance to the flood-hit brotherly country.

China is one of the first countries to send relief to Pakistan after it was hit by floods in late July. On August 1, the Chinese government pledged to provide to the Pakistani government an emergency humanitarian assistance of RMB 10 million including materials of urgent need such as tents and medicine. The aid was delivered shortly on August 4. On August 25, Chinese People’s Liberation Army delivered RMB 10 million urgently-needed materials to the Pakistani armed forces.

The Chinese government has provided several additional humanitarian assistances to its brotherly neighbor in the aftermath of the floods. On August 12, China decided to donate an additional RMB 50 million aid to the flood-affected Pakistani people including those ravaged by the landslide earlier this year in Gilgit-Baltistan, bringing total Chinese relief assistance to more than RMB 70 million. RMB 20 million out of the new RMB 50 million aid is specially designated for the people in the upper Hunza region. The 3190 tons of supplies carried by 101 trucks including 4 oil tankers are such daily necessities as wheat flour, rice, milk powder, table salt, cooking oil and sugar as well as diesel,petrol and medicine.They were dispatched from Kashgar of China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and reached Sust Dry Port via the Khunjerab Pass on September 2 for distribution. On August 25, China announced to donate another RMB 60 million humanitarian aid to Pakistan, refreshing total Chinese relief aid to more than RMB 130 million which has been all delivered to Pakistan till today.

To renew its generosity to Pakistan, the Chinese government declared on September 6 that it would provide an extra RMB 200 million aid to Pakistan government to continue to support its rescue and relief efforts. On September 22 local time, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced that China will, on top of the pledged assistance, provide another $ 200 million assistance to Pakistan when he delivered a speech at an United Nations high-level meeting on Millennium Development Goals in New York. The new pledge made China’s total assistance to Pakistan exceed $250 million at the moment.

Actively interacting with the Chinese government, people from all walks of life in China are also extending helping hands to their Pakistani brothers and sisters to the best of their capability. Apart from the more than $250 million humanitarian assistance the Chinese government has offered, various circles in China are voluntarily providing different forms of support to Pakistan through multiple channels.

2. What is the specification of your country humanitarian assistance to flood hit areas in Pakistan?

Most of China’s humanitarian assistance comes in kind and are mainly tents, water purification plants, dewatering and sludge-cleaning pumps, generators, water desalination systems, bottled soft water, ration, medicine and others that the Pakistani people most urgently need at present.

3. How you evaluate the medical and rescue facilities of your country in the ongoing saga of flood?

The Chinese government sent a 55-member international search and rescue team to the worst-hit region of Thatta in Sindh province late last month. It is the first international medical team reached the Thatta region. The team including 36 doctors and 19 technical support personnel brought 25 tonnes of high-tech medical equipments and medicine worth RMB 8 million. China’s second medical team consisting of 59 doctors and paramedics arrived in Thatta on September 15th. The medical teams so far have treated more than 22, 000 patients.

On September 20, a 68-member medical rescue team of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) carrying 80 tons of medicine and other relief goods reached Pakistan. The team has been in the Sehwan area of Sindh province providing medical treatment to the flood-stricken people there. 20 members of the team are female who are more convenient to offer medical service to the women and children, a record high in PLA’s foreign medical aid history. This is the third medical rescue team China send out to Pakistan. To supplement the efforts of the Chinese government in helping the brotherly neighbour fight the mega floods, the PLA has dispatched four military helicopters to Pakistan which reached the country on September 22. It is the first time Chinese military helicopters carry out an overseas rescue mission.

4. Since Chinese government has been helping the government of Pakistan from the very beginning. Would you please tell us the positive role of other Chinese organizations, enterprises and philanthropists in the humanitarian assistance?

Local governments, non-governmental organizations, enterprises and philanthropists and others across China have offered donations in various ways. Northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Southwest China’s Sichuan Province donated RMB 500,000 and RMB 100,000 in cash to Punjab Province respectively. Mr. Guo Jinlong, mayor of Beijing, wrote to CDA chairman expressing his sorrow over the flood damage and solidarity with the affected people and provided $50,000 donation in cash to the capital authority, becoming Islamabad’s first foreign sister city to offer a helping hand. China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region donated 9.95 million HK dollars to Pakistan.

Non-governmental organizations such as the Red Cross Society of China and All-China Women’s Federation have timely extended assistance to the Pakistani people. On August 5, China’s Red Cross Society donated $50,000 in cash to NDMA. On September 7, All-China Women’s Federation donated RMB 500,000 humanitarian aid to Pakistan’s Benazir Income Support Programme to express love and care for the flood-ravaged women and children.

Chinese entrepreneurs and philanthropists are eager to help their Pakistani brothers and sisters. Mr. Chen Guangbiao, Chairman of Jiangsu Huangpu Renewable Resources Utilization Ltd., donated RMB 1 million to Pakistan on August 31. He said China and Pakistan enjoy a special relationship and he feels the same as the Pakistani brothers are feeling at this moment of grief. Madam Ding Shumiao, Chairperson of Broad Union Investment Management Group Co. Ltd, donated RMB 1.3 million for the people in Pakistan on September 6. Madam Ding, started her life by selling eggs and later through hard work rose to one of the leading entrepreneurs in China, has always stood out with charity work. Mr. Chen, Madam Ding as well as other philanthropists’ donations were deposited into Pakistan Prime Minister’s Relief Fund Account. Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd. donated RMB 800,000 last month. It’s also worth mentioning that Mr. Li Xiguang, a Tsinghua University professor in China, donated his one month salary. The total value of these donations amounts to more than RMB 14 million as currently available data indicates. The actual amount would be much higher.

Chinese companies and individuals in Pakistan as well as Chinese diplomats in Islamabad have made voluntary donation worth millions of rupees soon after the floods, and more donations are being collected.

Sharing weal and woe, China and Pakistan are true friends that have always stood together and supported each other in times of need. China recently has suffered a lot from natural disasters such as floods and landslides whose damage are much more severe than in previous years. According to statistics, this year 27 out of the 34 provincial areas in China were hit by floods which affected more than 110 million people, 7,002 hectares of crops and caused about $21.3 billion in direct economic losses. For quite a long time, news regarding natural disasters of both China and Pakistan had spontaneously been the headlines of Chinese newspapers. Topics of Chinese TV programs in the prime time were natural disasters of our two countries. Despite its own severe natural disasters, China has provided timely, efficient, sincere and generous assistance to Pakistan within its capability and without any strings attached.

5. Would you please enlighten us about your future plan for the help of needy people in the most affected areas of flood?

China has made remarkable donations to the brotherly country and sent medical teams and helicopters to take part in Pakistan’s rescue and relief operations. China will continue to closely follow the flood situation in Pakistan and provide sincere and selfless support and assistance to it within the realm of its capabilities, in accordance with the rehabilitation and reconstruction needs of Pakistan. China will send a reconstruction survey team to the disaster zone in the near future and encourage and support the active participation of Chinese enterprises in the reconstruction efforts. We will cooperate with relevant Pakistan agencies and provide training in disaster prevention and reduction to boost Pakistan’s capacity for early warning and disaster response. We are convinced that under the leadership of the Pakistan government and with the unremitting efforts of the relevant parties in the country and with the strong help and support of the international community, the diligent and brave Pakistan people will prevail over the difficulties and rebuild their homeland at an early date.

6. Pak-China strategic friendship is above Himalaya. How you evaluate the different phases of our time-tested bilateral relations along with your suggestions to further strengthening of it?

China and Pakistan are closely linked with mountains and rivers and there has been a long history of friendly exchanges between the people. Since the ancient times, we have been good neighbors, close friend and trusted brothers.

Pakistan is among the first countries that recognized the People’s Republic of China. China and Pakistan officially established diplomatic relations in 1951, followed by positive measures adopted by our two countries to improve and develop the bilateral relations. During the Cold War when China was blocked and facing embargo by the West, Pakistan became the only bridge through which China reached out to the rest of the world. In the following years, with meticulous cultivation and kind attention of the leaders of our two countries, the China-Pakistan relationship stood the test of time and pressed ahead. Despite the volatile situation and profound changes on the international arena, the governments China and Pakistan along with their peoples have adhered to the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, supported each other, shared weal and woe and woe, and further deepened the China-Pakistan friendly and cooperative relations.

The relations between us have continued to enjoy a sound and stable development in the recent years. Last year witnessed a robust and continued momentum of development of our strategic partnership of cooperation. Leaders of the two countries conducted frequent exchanges. Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani paid fruitful visits to China respectively, and China’s Vice Permier Zhang Dejiang and State Councilor and Defence Minister Liang Guanglie’s separate visits to Pakistan harvested great success.

The Chinese government and people over the years have been providing unselfish and unconditional help and support to Pakistan. During Pakistan’s President Zardari recent visit to China, both the countries signed a number of bilateral agreements including inter-governmental economic and technological cooperation and areas such as health, and agricultural. Currently the brotherly country is suffering from unprecedented flood which has inflicted huge loss of life and property of its people. China feels as much pain as our Pakistani brothers and sisters do and have offered a helping hand to them. We will continue to provide help and support to Pakistan to the best of our capability through various channels.

Apart from the achievements that we have jointly made over the years, we still have more potential to explore in terms of trade, investment, defence, people-to-people contacts and others. Next year will be the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between us. Taking into account the special relations between our two countries and strategic partnership of cooperation, China will continue to adhere to the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence and other internationally recognized norms regarding state-to-state relations in developing its relations with Pakistan and will provide unselfish and unconditional support to Pakistan and its usually does. China is ready to work with Pakistan to take the opportunity of the 60th anniversary to further expand and enhance our existing cooperation and brotherhood and are committed to bringing our bilateral relations into a new height.

7. Would you please tell us bilateral trade volumes between Pakistan and China? Moreover, what are the main areas of mutual cooperation?

The two countries are important trade partners with increasingly interwoven economic and trade relations. Bilateral trade volume in the first five months of this year rose by 31 percent and Pakistan’s exports to China grew by 72 percent, as compared to the same period last year. Bilateral cooperation in such fields as energy, transportation, telecommunication and infrastructure continues to expand and deepen. There are thousands of Chinese engineers and workers in Pakistan who are working hard for the country’s economic development despite difficult conditions, which symbolizes the generosity and brotherhood of the Chinese people towards the Pakistani people. China will make renewed efforts to encourage qualified Chinese entrepreneurs to come to Pakistan and play their vital parts in Pakistan’s national building, economic development and social progress.

8. How you assess Pak-China military cooperation?

Military cooperation is an important component of China-Pakistan strategic partnership. In recent years, our two militaries have conducted all-dimensional and multi-level exchanges and cooperation in defence consultation, military personnel training, anti-terrorism exercises and etc. In the defence field, our two sides have cooperated successfully on Al-Khalid Tanks, JF-17 Fighters and F-22 Frigates and other important projects.

Our military exchanges and extended cooperation are self-defence in nature and aimed at improving our respective national defence capacity and fighting against the three evil forces i.e. extremism, terrorism and separatism, contributing to peace and stability of the region and development and prosperity of the world at large.

9. Pakistan is an energy deficit country. What are the main areas of energy cooperation and also briefly tell about Chinese companies’ contribution in this regard.

China-Pakistan energy cooperation mainly falls into electric power cooperation which started in 1983. Primarily the cooperation focused on hydropower and thermal power and later on nuclear power and wind power are included. The two countries have no cooperation in solar energy at the current stage.

The Chinese firms cooperating with their local counterparts in Pakistan are mainly Harbin Power Engineering Company Ltd., Dongfang Electric Corp., CWE, Sinohydro Corp., Zhongyuan Engineering Group, Gezhouba Group, CMEC, and CMC. Covering hydropower, thermal power, nuclear power, and electricity transmission and transformation, these companies have contracted approximately 40 projects in Pakistan worth more than $5 billion in accumulative terms. 28 of them have been accomplished.

10. What are the major ongoing Chinese projects relating to energy generation in Pakistan?

Major ongoing projects are Chashma Nuclear Power Plant II and the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Station. The Sardhi wind power project of Sindh province constructed by a Chinese firm will be completed by the end of this year.

11. What are your comments on Pak-China Civil Nuclear extended cooperation?

Recently China-Pakistan civil nuclear cooperation has drew immense international attention. Some countries have made irresponsible remarks on and raised objections to it. Some even went so far and threatened to boycott our cooperation in relevant international meetings. Actually, the cooperation is completely in line with our respective obligations of international non-proliferation. China-Pakistan civil nuclear cooperation, totally for peaceful purpose and subject to the safeguard and supervision of the IAEA, is a bilateral cooperation of mutual benefit in nature and does not target any third party. China always believes that sovereign countries are entitled to the rights of peaceful use of nuclear energy while complying with their international obligations of nuclear non-proliferation. China maintains that development of nuclear energy and relevant international cooperation should be conducive to strengthening the authority and integrity of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.

12. What are the prospects of Pak-China energy cooperation?

China and Pakistan is highly complementary in energy cooperation. China has good experience, advanced technology and excellent expertise, while Pakistan enjoys abundant resources, competitive labour forces and other advantages. China takes full note of the energy deficit situation of our brotherly neighbour and will continue to provide support to and conduct mutually beneficial cooperation with Pakistan through a variety of channels to help overcome the difficulties, so as to contribute to Pakistan’s economic development and social progress.

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