ISLAMABAD - Pakistan said yesterday its friendship with China was a guarantee for regional peace .

Sartaj Aziz, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs, said the all-weather strategic partnership between Pakistan and China was an anchor for stability.

Soon after the independence, bilateral relations between the two nations evolved from an initial Chinese policy of neutrality to a partnership with a smaller but militarily powerful Pakistan.

Diplomatic relations were established in 1950, military assistance began in 1966, a strategic alliance was formed in 1972 and economic co-operation began in 1979.

China has become Pakistan’s largest supplier of arms and its third-largest trading partner. Recently, both nations have decided to cooperate in improving Pakistan’s civil nuclear power sector.

According to Pew Research Centre in 2014, Pakistanis have the most favourable view of China after China itself. Maintaining close relations with China is a central part of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

In a meeting with Member Political Bureau of Central Committee of Communist Party of China and Secretary Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Zhang Chunxian, Sartaj Aziz emphasized that friendship with China was the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

The two sides discussed a wide range of bilateral issues such as trade, investment, economic cooperation including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, people to people contacts, culture, education, science and technology, the Foreign Ministry said.

Enhancement of cooperation between Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China and Pakistan including at the provincial level was also deliberated upon at length, a statement issued by the ministry said.

Zhang Chunxian, accompanied by a large delegation of officials and businesspersons, had arrived in Pakistan on four-day visit on April 3. During his ongoing visit, he also visited Karachi and Gwadar port.

Chunxian thanked the Adviser for the warm hospitality and said Pakistan and China were “iron brothers” joined by land, mountains and rivers. He reiterated China’s unflinching support to Pakistan’s sovereignty, national security and territorial integrity.

The Member Political Bureau of Central Committee of CPC and Xinjiang Party Secretary lauded Pakistan’s efforts in combating terrorism and recognized the sacrifices made by its people in this campaign.

Reiterating commitment to the CPEC, he said it was a flagship project of President Xi Jinping’s ‘One Belt-One Road’ initiative to which the Chinese leadership attaches great importance.

Chunxian emphasized CPEC will be of mutual economic benefit to the people of China and Pakistan as well as the region.

During discussion, he emphasized the importance of connectivity and for realizing the full objective of the Quadrilateral Agreement on Road Transportation between China, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Chunxian also highlighted the importance of setting up of Industrial and Science and Technology Parks in Pakistan which could attract large investment from enterprises in Xinjiang.