(TibetanReview.net, Apr22, 2015) – On his first state visit to Pakistan over Apr 20-21, Chinese President Xi Jinping has said his country will “continue to staunchly support Pakistan for its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” according to China’s official Xinhua news agency Apr 21. Such an assurance can, of course, be directed only against India which Pakistan sees as its archrival and the only danger on these issues. Xi has called on both China and Pakistan to strengthen security cooperation.
Xi has also said China appreciated Pakistan’s consistent support on issues related to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and South China Sea. Likewise, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said his country was committed to the One China policy and supported China’s positions on issues concerning these four issues.
The report said the two countries, which had long viewed each other as “iron friends,” upgraded their relations to all- weather strategic partnership of cooperation, eyeing perpetual friendship from generation to generation when Xi and Sharif met on Apr 20.
“The Chinese side highly values its relationship with Pakistan, and has always placed the relationship on a priority position in its foreign policy agenda,” Xi has told Sharif during the talks. Sharif has gushed back in similar terms, saying, “The Pakistan-China friendship is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy, and the Pakistani people treasure the brotherly relationship with China.” And he has reiterated: “The Pakistan-China friendship is higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, sweeter than honey, and stronger than steel.”
The report said high on Xi’s agenda during his two-day visit included advancing the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and a planned network of roads, railways and energy projects linking southwest Pakistan’s deepwater Gwadar Port with Chinese ruled Xinjiang (East Turkestan). It noted that the CPEC was located where China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road met. Altogether China will invest 46 billion yuan in such projects.
The biggest concern remains Pakistan’s ability to deliver security to China’s project. An independent.co.uk report Apr 20 noted that a Western diplomat was quoted by the Financial Times as saying: “If Pakistan fails to end the Taliban threat, how will there be enough stability to let the Chinese projects continue?” It added that the network of roads, railways and pipelines will pass through Pakistan’s poor Baluchistan province where a long-running separatist insurgency, which the army had failed to bring under control, would raise questions about the feasibility of the plan.
The report also quoted Xi as having said earlier, “Our cooperation in the security and economic fields reinforce each other, and they must be advanced simultaneously.”