May 21, 2016 marked the 65 years of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China. From 1951 to 2016, the six and a half decades boast of unflinching support of the two neighboring countries to each other. The diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China have transformed into a friendship that has become proverbial and is said to be deeper than the seas and higher than the mountains. The ever changing dynamics of the world politics could not create rift between this Yǒuyì (Friendship).

Pakistan was the first Muslim and third non-communist country to recognize China. It was also the force behind China’s entry into the west. Henry Kissinger’s visit to China in 1971 was facilitated by Pakistan. China has got support of Pakistan on all the world forums. Be it the South China Sea or Taiwan issue, Pakistan has always put its weight behind its neighbor. On the other hand, China has also supported Pakistan on Kashmir issue and vetoed every move that could harm the interests of Pakistan. It is said that there is no permanent friend in international relations. However, this notion belies itself when it comes to the persistent cordial relations of Pakistan and China. It’s a time-tested and all-weather friendship.

In the 21st century, when every nation is in the quest of becoming economic giant, Pakistan and China both need each other – there is a strategic convergence of interests. China has provided ‘air cover’ to Pakistan in terms of the country’s interests against pressure from ‘outside’, including cover for Pakistan’s nuclear program or even economic pressures. It also supports Pakistan on forums like the G-20, Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Similarly Pakistan provides parallel ‘cover’ to Chinese interests in the region; the Pakistani government provides unequivocal and complete support to the Chinese government of its four core areas of interest. According to Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) report, the first of these is China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty – Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang; secondly, the paramount role of Communist Part of China as a leading political force; thirdly, the issue of the peaceful rise of China as a major global power and finally, strategically, in terms of the emerging issues of the South China Sea. Pakistan is also an important window for China into the Muslim World, which is highly important as out of the 56 nationalities in China, 10 are Muslim.

Last year, this bond of relations was further strengthened when Pakistan and China tightened a knot with 51 agreements and 13 projects. Under the umbrella of China Pak Economic Corridor, China will invest 46 billion dollars in Pakistan. This investment is heaviest by any country for Pakistan in the last 69 years. CPEC is the network of roads, railway-tracks, communication lines and energy related infrastructure. It is said that this mega project is going to change the fate of our country. However, there are some prerequisites to get its fruits.

Foremost is the need to keep the political differences away from the project. Our political parties need to understand the importance of CPEC for Pakistan. Neither the government, nor the opposition parties should politicize it. Secondly, the work on projects should not suffer any delay; and it should be completed within the stipulated timeframe. Then, we have to ensure the safety and security of those working on it. There are Chinese engineers and workmen whose security is the prime responsibility of federal and provincial governments. A week ago, KP police refused to provide its policemen for the protection of Chinese engineers on the pretext of the provincial government’s differences with federal government on the proposed western route of CPEC. We need to move ahead. Any such differences should not jeopardize the completion of the corridor.

It must be taken into consideration that our enemies are going all out to halt this project. India protested and tried to convince China that the corridor should not be built on the ‘disputed territory.’ However, China brushed aside the Indian notion and carried on with the commitment.

The Hindu reported that Indian premier Narendra Modi flew to Iran on a two-day official visit on May 22. The visit includes doubling of oil supplies from Iran to India and the development of ChahBahar Port is also on the cards. It will be the first foreign port that India is directly involved in developing. India and Iran have already agreed to fast-track the Chabahar port project - a move to counter Pakistan’s Gwadar Port. China will support us and will help Pakistan counter the Indian designs; but our political parties also need to understand the geo-politics of Pakistan’s neighbours.