The relations between Pakistan and China are nearly 65 years old and reportedly plans are afoot to celebrate the 65th anniversary of these relations. Both the countries have all the reasons to celebrate it as is evident from the enviable history of relations between the two. The time-tested, ever growing and tensile bonds between the two countries derive their depth from geographical proximity, shared geo-political interests, shared perception on regional security, issues of global concern and the snow-balling and mutually beneficial economic and military ties spanning well over six decades. These factors have so interwoven the interests of the two countries that their relations are now destined to remain on the upward curve, belying the diplomatic maxim that friends of today can be enemies of tomorrow and vice versa.

The longstanding diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China established on 21 May 1951—in the wake of Mao Tse Tung’s take over—- against the wishes of the western countries have withstood the test of time and grown into an enduring, multifaceted, deep-rooted friendship which would perhaps require a new diplomatic phrase to describe them. This friendship is underpinned by mutual trust and confidence. Close identity of views and mutuality of interests remain the hallmark of the bilateral ties.

Notwithstanding the fact that Pakistan was a US ally, the development of relations with China has been the corner stone of its foreign policy.

It was due to Pakistan’s alliance with US and strong ties with China that enabled it to facilitate the end of China’s isolation by orchestrating rapprochement between China and US. Pakistan has also been supporting China on all issues of importance to the latter, especially those related to the question of China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet and other sensitive matters such as human rights. China over the years has supported the Kashmir cause and extended liberal economic and military assistance to Pakistan. When Pakistan was abandoned by its ally US during the 1965 war with India, China was there to help Pakistan as it did in each and every subsequent crisis.

China has also played a significant role in the economic progress of Pakistan. The construction of KKH Highway, Heavy Mechanical Complex at Taxila and Chashma Nuclear Plant are the monuments of the ever-spiking relationship. In the backdrop of the US-India deal for transfer of civilian nuclear technology, which Pakistan regards as discriminatory act, China exhibited the strength of the friendship between the two countries by agreeing to help Pakistan. An agreement to this effect was signed on June 8, 2010 in regards to construction of two nuclear power plants at Chashma. These two plants are part of the PAEC programme to generate 8800 MW of nuclear power for the country to supplement other sources of power generation The US raised objections on the cooperation in the nuclear field between Pakistan and China however the latter brushed aside the apprehensions by informing the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at Christchurch, of its decision to build Chashma IV and V in Pakistan. An arrangement for soft Chinese loan to fund the construction was also inked. In the domain of defence relations, the production of JF-17 Thunder fighter plane at Aeronautical Complex Kamra stands out as a monumental cooperation between the two countries. Pakistan is poised to even export these planes and recently Qatar and Sri Lanka have shown interest in buying these state of the art planes, which would greatly benefit Pakistan in regards to earning foreign exchange.

The visit of the Chinese President His Excellency to Pakistan in April 2015 when 51 MOUs for projects under CPEC were formalised, marked an exponential enhancement in the relations between the two countries giving permanence to strategic partnership between them that holds the promise of not only serving the geo-political, economic and security interests of both of them but also the South Asian region as well as Central Asia.

Pakistan rightly feels proud of aligning itself with the new Chinese vision for regional connectivity and shared economic prosperity purported to be realised through revival of the old silk route and the building of CPEC. These are epoch making initiatives dictated by the phenomenal economic progress of China and changing regional and global realities fraught with throwing open infinite opportunities to exploit the hitherto untapped resources for shared economic gains. The completion of the projects under the umbrella of CPEC will have a revolutionary impact on the economic profile of Pakistan and go a long way in changing the lives of people belonging to all the four provinces, as rightly noted and pointed out by His Excellency Xi Jin Ping during his visit to Pakistan. The CPEC will turn Pakistan into an economic hub for the region with all the accompanying benefits on perennial basis.

China would also undoubtedly benefit from this undertaking in many ways and be in a much better position to expand its commercial interests on the global level by securing shortest possible access route to the Arabian Sea as well as to import oil for its industrial machine at a much lesser cost and time. It would indeed be a win-win situation for both China and Pakistan and the countries of the region. Pakistan is a naturally endowed country. Its geo-strategic location connecting three main sub-regions of Asia provides it with a unique advantage which can help China in furthering its economic and strategic objectives.

Pakistan currently is engaged in a decisive war against terrorism that poses great threat to peace, security and tranquility in the region affecting almost all the regional countries in varying degrees. Pakistan as a frontline state in the war against terrorism and having suffered colossal economic losses in this battle and having endured its negative impact on the security situation in the country, understands and appreciates Chinese concerns about the security challenges in its Sinkiang province as a consequence of the terrorist activities of ETIM and stands with it in combating the threat. The security interests of Pakistan and China are interconnected. China is also appreciative and supportive of Pakistan’s efforts in regards to tackling terrorism and both the countries have resolved to work together to confront this common challenge both at the bilateral level and through cooperative efforts of the countries of the region.