ISLAMABAD   -  Chinese Foreign Wang Yi arrived in Islamabad Friday for talks with the Pakistani civilian and military leadership aiming at enhancing the partnership.

The Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister will be in Islamabad until September 9. He is accompanied by a high-level delegation including three ministers.

During his visit, the State Councillor will hold delegation-level talks with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. He will also call on the President, the Prime Minister, Speaker National Assembly, and meet the Chief of Army Staff.

This is the first official visit by a Chinese dignitary since the new government led by the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf was formed.

Yi’s visit comes amid a fresh standoff between US and its non-NATO frontline ally as it announced suspension of $300 million towards Coalition Support Funds for Pakistan.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited Islamabad briefly with Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford and others on September 5, said at the conclusion of the trip: “We made clear to them that – and they agreed - it’s time for us to begin to deliver on our joint commitments, right.  So we’ve had lots of times where we’ve talked and made agreements, but we haven’t been able to actually execute those.” 

He added: “And so there was broad agreement between myself and Foreign Minister (Shah Mehmood) Qureshi, as well as with the Prime Minister (Imran Khan), that we need to begin to do things that will begin to actually, on the ground, deliver outcomes so that we can begin to build confidence and trust between the two countries.  That was the focus of the gathering.”

China has also been supporting efforts by Pakistan and India to improve ties using the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation forum. Beijing has expressed optimism that the two nuclear-armed neighbours’ entry into the SCO could strengthen prospects for peace across the region.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said besides holding talks and a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Wang Yi will also meet major Pakistani leaders.

The spokesperson said the two sides will exchange views on bilateral relations as well as international and regional issues of mutual interest.

China-Pakistan relations began in 1950.  Since then, both countries have placed considerable importance on the maintenance of an extremely close and supportive special relationship and the two countries have regularly exchanged high-level visits resulting in a variety of agreements.

China has provided economic, military, and technical assistance to Pakistan, and each country considers the other a close strategic ally. Bilateral relations have evolved from an initial Chinese policy of neutrality to a partnership with a smaller but militarily powerful Pakistan.

Diplomatic relations were established in 1950, boundary issues resolved in 1963, 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. China supports Pakistan's stance on Kashmir, while Pakistan supports China on the issues of Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan.

Chinese cooperation with Pakistan has reached economic high points, with substantial Chinese investment in Pakistani infrastructural expansion including the Pakistani deep-water port at Gwadar. Both countries have an ongoing free trade agreement.

According to statistics the bilateral trade volume for the calendar year 2017 crossed the $ 20 billion mark for the first time. In 2017 China's exports to Pakistan grew by 5.9 per cent to reach $18.25 billion whereas Pakistan's exports to China fell by 4.1 per cent to $1.83 billion. China has invested billions of dollars in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and provided job opportunities to scores of Pakistanis.

Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi and UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock met with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The two UN officials expressed their gratitude to the people and government of Pakistan – acknowledging Pakistan’s generosity in hosting one of the world’s largest refugee populations for decades.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister affirmed his government’s commitment to refugee repatriation remaining voluntary despite the internal challenges that Pakistan faces.

 Lowcock confirmed his determination to mobilize greater international support for areas hosting refugees and other communities affected by displacement.

“There is a major opportunity now to help the people of the tribal districts to improve their lives. The international community must do all it can to support the Government in this,” he said.

Prime Minister Khan noted UNHCR’s generous financial contribution and support provided to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Peshawar - which Grandi and Lowcock are scheduled to visit today (September 8).

After the meeting, Grandi said: “Pakistan has been host to millions of Afghan refugees for almost four decades. Pakistan is an indispensable partner of UNHCR. We look forward to working together on just, lasting solutions to the plight of refugees.”

 

Chinese FM

in Islamabad

to enhance partnership