By Mehmood-Ul-Hassan Khan
In the times of natural calamities, geo-strategic sensitivities, or financial crises, People’s Republic of China always stood first to rescue us from the deep seas of uncertainties to the shores of stability and survival. That is why Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao believed Pak-China friendship as a pine tree that remains evergreen despite the harshest of winters and it has stood the test of time like a strong horse.
China being a strategic ally supported Pakistan in the fields of peaceful civil nuclear power generation, defence production, heavy industry and mega infrastructural projects. China has also made valuable contribution to Pakistan’s economic development on regular basis. Gwadar Deep Seaport, Karakoram Highway, Thar Coal Mining, Power Generation Projects, Upgrading of Pakistan Railways and the last but not the least Upgrading of Pakistan’s Defence capabilities are the prime examples of Pak-China strategic friendship.
Pursuing strategic friendship with China remains the bedrock of Pakistan’s foreign policy and national consensus. Right from the beginning, Pakistan reassured its position on its policy of One China and fully supported China on the issues of Taiwan and Tibet. We also extended our support on the issues of human rights and Sinkiang. We rendered our services to create space for the USA and China’s relations. We made sincere efforts for the Chinese membership to UN General Assembly. Most recently we stood with China on the issue of noble prize controversy.
During the last year devastating series of floods in the country the Chinese side supported, the government of Pakistan in the phases of recovery and rehabilitation in the most affected areas of flood in the country especially the national highway network post-flood rehabilitation project in flood-affected areas, the national project for improved rice-processing, the national project for controlled atmosphere and advanced ventilated cold storage and crop monitoring through remote imagery satellite. It also allocated 10 million US Dollars for the Citizen Damage Compensation Plan of Pakistan, and provided 100 million US dollars in preferential loans and 300 million US dollars in preferential buyer’s credit for projects of great importance to Pakistan.
Recently, China again fully supported the government of Pakistan and its people in the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden by US forces in Abbottabad. China strongly acknowledged the sacrifices of Pakistan being the frontline state against war against terror. China recognized Pakistan’s contribution and its sacrifice, appealing for a global resolve to combat terrorism and extremism in a holistic approach with regional cooperation. China endorsed Pakistan’s role in ensuring regional stability and fighting terrorism and extended its full support to its “strategic partner” despite the volatile international political situation. For the further strengthening of bilateral strategic relations both the countries have already declared 2011 as year Pakistan-China Friendship.
China termed Pakistan as a “cradle of culture and civilization” which could be used as a means to spread message of peace, love and tolerance to the international community. On part of Pakistan, it considerers China as land of wonders/miracles and people of great commitment” and takes inspiration from China’s economic transformation that is unparalleled in human history. Moreover, it is fact that Pak-China Strategic Friendship has assumed a regional and international dimension too. Both the sides consult, cooperate and coordinate their respective endeavours for the cause of global peace and prosperity.
Our reliable, evergreen and Himalaya-above friendship ties have multidimensional strategic importance. In his ongoing state visit to China, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani appreciates that in all difficult circumstances China stood with Pakistan; therefore we call China a true and all-weather friend”. To protect the vested strategic interests in the region both the countries have committed to extend mutual cooperation in the fields of defence, socio-economics and culture. Now, economy, technology and trade cooperation between Pakistan and China has witnessed new dynamism.
The series of “First Five Year Development Program” would pay the dividends in the days to come. Pakistan considers closer Pak-China economic integration as ‘strategic imperative’. It is hoped that it further promote mutually-beneficial bilateral economic cooperation but also base/platform to jointly promote intra-regional and trans-regional development partnerships”.
Bilateral trade volumes touched dollars 9 billion in 2010. However, the scope of further growth is immense. Both the sides have set a target of attaining dollars 15 billion trade in the coming years. In this connection, the establishment of Pakistan-China Trans-border Economic Zone; upgrading avenues for trade, overland across shared mountains and rivers; steps being taken towards integrated border management; and other related measures, including customs harmonization would enable both countries to bring to play and optimally utilize the natural economic complementarities of the two countries.
Recently, the two countries signed three cooperative documents including an agreement on economic and technical cooperation between China and Pakistan, Amendment to the Memorandum of Understanding on Crisis Management between the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) and the State Bank of Pakistan, and Addendum No. 2 to Lease Contract Sanduk Copper-Gold Project for Extension between Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd and Sanduck Metals Ltd.
Hundreds of Chinese corporations and thousands of Chinese friends are already working in Pakistan. There is great potential for the participation of Chinese corporations in the development of the energy sector in Pakistan, which includes hydel, thermal and renewable. Furthermore, joint ventures, with equity participation of Chinese corporations and financial institutions, can transform Pakistan’s economic landscape and would certainly prove to be a win-win scenario.
Many Chinese companies such as Harbin Power Engineering Company Ltd., Dongfang Electric Corp., CWE, Sinohydro Corp., Zhongyuan Engineering Group, Gezhouba Group, CMEC, and CMC are working to overcome the energy crisis in the country. These private companies are engaged with 40 projects amounting $5 billion of hydropower, thermal power, nuclear power, and electricity transmission and transformation. Chashma Nuclear Power Plant II, the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Station and the Sardhi wind power project are the prime examples of Pak-China strategic cooperation.
A project to generate 2,300MW of electricity through wind turbines and solar panels has turned out to be the most important agreement reached with China during the recent times. The project would involve an investment of $6.5 billion and wind power projects of 1,000MW each would be set up in Punjab and Sindh. In addition, a 200MW solar power project would be set up in Punjab and another of 100MW in Sindh.
Pakistan with the technical and financial support of China launched six different projects worth $ 2757.400 million during 2005-2010. Another five projects worth $409.292 million are under process for implementation. The projects included nuclear power plants, construction of national highways, satellite communication and rehabilitation of earthquake affected areas.
The government of Pakistan appreciated the 500 scholarships announced by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his recent visit to Pakistan that would be used in a three year time period. More than 6,000 Pakistani students are getting education in different universities in China and the focus is on further taking the number to 10,000 in next few years.
Keeping in view the recent emerging geo-political and geo-strategic trends in the region especially after the US-India Nuclear Alliance the government of Pakistan requested to further strengthening of peaceful civil nuclear cooperation with China. Pakistan-China nuclear energy cooperation is completely peaceful and in line with obligations of international non-proliferation and the safeguard and supervision of the IAEA. The Chinese premier reaffirmed to Pakistanis that China would continue to cooperate with Pakistan for peaceful use of nuclear energy and help it exploit power through renewable means. China has also agreed to assist the country in the construction of Bhasha-Diamir multipurpose dam.
China and Pakistan have established trustworthy and strategic partnership in high-tech defense production. China has provided military assistance to Pakistan whenever it needed it the most. It encouraged self-reliance and indigenization of military supplies and transfer of technologies to Pakistan. This included supply of spare parts, setting up local overhauling facilities, license production and joint ventures.
Military cooperation is an important component of China-Pakistan strategic partnership. In recent years, 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, both the countries have cooperated successfully on Al-Khalid Tanks, JF-17 Fighters and F-22 Frigates and other important projects. The bilateral defence cooperation is aimed at improving national defence capacity and fighting against extremism, terrorism and separatism, contributing to peace and stability of the region and development and prosperity of the world at large. It is predicted that Sino-Pakistan defence cooperation will provide regional strategic balance in the South East Asia.
Pakistan and China have solid bilateral ties that will provide ample benefits to both the nations. The time-tested relations must be optimal utilized for increasing energy and defence cooperation.