ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is considering China as a big shield if the United States persists on its demand to ‘do more’ when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Islamabad on September 5, diplomatic sources said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit Islamabad on September 7, only a day after Pompeo’s talks with the Pakistani leaders.
The Pak-US talks are not likely to be too pleasant keeping in view the mistrust between the two countries. However, Pakistan is making efforts to save the relationship with the US even if Islamabad has to be ‘flexible.’
Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that China was a ‘great cover’ for Pakistan amid the tensions with the US and Islamabad considered Beijing as a ‘protective shield.’
One official said Chinese foreign minister’s arrival after Pompeo’s visit would give Islamabad a chance to discuss ‘other options’ with the close ally.
“We have no trust issues with China. We can discuss anything. China has supported us through thick and thin.
If the talks with Pompeo are not too positive, we have the options of China and Russia. Chinese FM’s visit is meaningful (due to its timing),” he said.
Another official said Pakistan was willing to be flexible but will not be ready to compromise on the national interest.
“China and Russia are our priority now. During Chinese FM’s visit, we will discuss how to strengthen the relationship further. This will reduce our dependence on the US,” he contended.
China has also been active to ensure Pak-India peace. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying recently said China welcomed the joint participation of Pakistan and India in the anti-terror exercise under the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation framework in Russia.
“Both Pakistan and India are important countries in South Asia. A stable Pakistan-India relationship is of great significance to the peace and stability of the region and the peace and development of the world at large.
We sincerely hope that the two countries can strengthen dialogue and cooperation between them and within such multilateral mechanisms as the SCO, improve their relations and jointly uphold regional peace and stability,” she said.
Pakistan is also thrilled at China’s intervention for Pak-India peace. Earlier, Wang Yi said China expected the SCO to play a key role in resolving the differences between Pakistan and India, who joined the organisation last year.
“We know there are existing and historical unresolved conflicts between Pakistan and India,” the Chinese foreign minister said, adding: “But I think after they joined the SCO, maybe we can provide a better platform and opportunities for the building of relations between them.”
The statement came after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleged that Pakistan was a major stumbling block in the improvement of relations between India and China.
Wang Yi said all SCO members had taken pledges about maintaining good relations with other members. He described the SCO as a “great vehicle” for improving ties between India and Pakistan.
President Mamnoon Hussain was in China in June to represent Pakistan at the SCO Council of Heads of State meeting. During the sideline meetings, Pakistan, Russia and China formed an unofficial bloc vowing to work together in the coming years.
The Council of the Heads of State, which convenes annually, is the highest decision-making forum of the SCO. It reviews performance of the organization and its bodies and makes fundamental decisions about future course of action.
This week, Chinese President Xi Jinping underlined thorough and solid cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative to benefit people in countries involved and build a community with a shared future for humanity.
Xi Jinping, addressed a symposium held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on the fifth anniversary of the BRI, calling for efforts to uphold dialogue and consultation, joint contribution, shared benefits, win-win cooperation, exchange and mutual learning and to promote political mutual trust, economic integration, people-to-people exchanges with the Belt and Road countries in order to advance the initiative step by step, producing achievements.
As of July 2018, more than 100 countries and international organizations had signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with China, extending the initiative's scope from the Eurasian continent to Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the South Pacific region.
President Jinping stressed that the initiative served as a solution for China to participate in global opening-up and cooperation, improve global economic governance, promote common development and prosperity, and build a community with a shared future for humanity.
In 2014, China announced contributing $ 40 billion to set up a Silk Road Fund to support the Belt and Road projects. A year later, the China-initiated new multilateral financial institution Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was established.
Under the initiative, China has set up 81 education institutions and projects as well as 35 cultural centers in countries along the Belt and Road.
In the first seven months of 2018, Chinese companies raised investment in 54 countries along the Belt and Road.
The $ 8.55-billion newly added investment represented an 11.8 percent increase year on year.
China’s trade with Belt and Road countries has exceeded $ 5 trillion US and outward direct investment has amounted to more than $ 60 billion dollars, creating around 200,000 local jobs.
Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said China had proved to a great friend over the decades and Pakistan expected Beijing to stand by Islamabad in the future.