Beijing and Islamabad vowed to deepen economic engagement with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a pioneering project of their cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi pledged to strengthen strategic consultations to promote their close and broad-based bilateral ties when they held the first China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue in Beijing on March 29.
Wang told Qureshi in the opening speech that China stands ready to work with Pakistan to advance the high-quality development of CPEC to build an even stronger China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.
He told reporters at a joint news conference with Qureshi after the strategic dialogue that “CPEC will become a shining example of the two countries’ cooperation”, and planning and construction of the project was improving consistently.
Saying China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners, Wang added that despite profound changes in the international situation, their friendship remains solid and their relationship enjoys a strong vitality.
China will continue to firmly support Pakistan in safeguarding its national sovereignty and dignity and choosing its development path in line with its national conditions. China also supports the South Asian nation’s efforts to pursue national stability, development and prosperity, and its desire to play a bigger role in regional and international affairs, Wang said.
For his part, Qureshi said his country remains committed to the implementation of CPEC, which he said is a “national consensus” project as it is not only beneficial to China and Pakistan, but also to the region.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan plans to attend the Second Belt and Road Forum on International Cooperation to be held in Beijing next month, Qureshi said.
During the meeting, Wang also condemned the attack that occurred in New Zealand on March 15, which claimed at least 50 lives, including eight Pakistani nationals.
He expressed condolences to the bereaved Pakistani families and said anti-terrorism efforts should neither adopt dual-standards nor be linked to certain countries or religions, and all countries should join hands to fight against all forms of terror.
He called on the international community to view in a fair manner the commitment and long-standing efforts of Pakistan in its crackdown on terrorism.
In terms of the recent tensions between Pakistan and India, Wang said China appreciates the positive efforts made by Pakistan to ease the tense situation, and called on both countries to continue to exercise restraint and address their disparities through dialogue and peaceful means.
Qureshi appreciated China’s mediation efforts and said Islamabad wants to de-escalate tensions with New Delhi.
The mechanism of the foreign ministers’ strategic dialogue will help the two all-weather strategic cooperative partners work together to address challenges arising from the current complex international and regional situation, observers said.
Li Qingyan, an expert on South Asian issues at the China Institute of International Studies, said CPEC is a good example of Belt and Road international cooperation.
With the challenges emerging from construction of CPEC, the two countries should attach importance to top-level design to help advance CPEC-related projects smoothly, Li said.
She added future cooperation should be expanded to such fields as the building of industrial parks and agriculture to help promote economic and social development, create more jobs and improve people’s livelihoods.