BEIJING  - Pakistan and China have reiterated their resolve to strengthen their comprehensive and all-dimensional relationship, especially in the field of defence.

Conveying their solidarity with Pakistan, the Chinese civilian and military leaders have told visiting Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani that China stood by its close and trusted strategic partner, Pakistan. China has started its calendar of visits in 2012 with the visit of Gen Kayani. Chinese media has, especially, highlighted the importance of the visit against the backdrop of recent regional and international developments.

Gen Kayani had three separate meetings with State Councillor Dai Bingguo; General Chen Bingde, PLA Chief of General Staff, and Chen Qiufa, Administrator, State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) in Beijing on Friday.

Gen Chen Bingde told Gen Kayani that Pakistan-China friendship is “as strong as steel”. It is a relationship conducive to peace and stability in the region, he said. Gen Chen said that the armed forces, governments and people of the two countries are proud of this all-weather relationship.

Endorsing this assessment, Gen Kayani said the time-tested strategic relations between Pakistan and China have the support of the people of two countries. Both Pakistan and China have gone through different phases in their history but their friendship and strong bonds have been a constant factor. Gen Kayani said that the relationship between the two armed forces is solid which has been strengthened by frequent high-level visits, joint exercises and enhanced technological cooperation.

Gen Kayani said that the joint exercises between the armed forces of the two countries have demonstrated a high degree of professional compatibility and interoperability.

General Chen said China will give unwavering support to Pakistan.  “The Chinese government and PLA attach highest importance to Gen Kayani’s visit and Sino-Pak military-to-military cooperation,” he said, adding that the friendship between the two countries will grow. General Chen thanked Pakistan for giving unstinting support to China on the issues of Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang.

General Kayani said that Pakistan will continue to provide firm support to China on all issues concerning its core interests and will work closely with the Chinese side to take Pak-China strategic partnership to new heights.  Echoing these sentiments, Gen Chen said that China would like strengthening military ties with Pakistan and take the existing cooperation to a new, higher level. He said that the Pak-China relations had progressed healthily and smoothly. “Under the current complex and volatile regional and international situation, China and Pakistan have resolved to further consolidate and strengthen their relations in accordance with their fundamental interests,” he said.

 The COAS and General Chen agreed to enhance exchanges of younger soldiers and officers of the two armed forces.

Earlier, General Kayani, in a two-hour long meeting with State Councillor Dai Bingguo, reviewed the changing regional and international scenarios and discussed ways to protect their common interests and promote their shared aspirations.

State Councillor Dai Bingguo said China supported and respected Pakistan’s efforts to safeguard its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. He said China fully respects Pakistan’s endeavours to fight terrorism, promote economic growth and enhance social stability. Pakistan, he said, has given tremendous sacrifices in the war against terrorism. Dai said the international community should not only acknowledge Pakistan’s contributions but support Pakistan’s efforts to promote security and stability as well as pursue economic development.

The COAS reiterated that Pakistan’s objective is to have a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. “Pakistan will continue to work for a peaceful neighbourhood,” he said.  He conveyed the gratitude of the people and armed forces of Pakistan to China for taking a forthright and principled stand on Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The people of Pakistan deeply appreciate China’s solidarity at critical junctures, he said. 

The Army chief also held consultations with SASTIND Administrator to consolidate existing defence industry cooperation and to explore new avenues for shared technological platforms. Projects covering joint production and defence trade have created a strong interface between the two armed forces.

Ambassador Masood and senior Pakistani military officers attended the meetings.

PLA’s two Deputy Chiefs of General Staff, General Ma Xiaotian and General Hou Shusen joined the meeting between CGS Chen Bingde and Gen Kayani.