Roundtable Discussion with Chinese Delegation from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
June 26, 2019
“Even though Pakistan and China have geographically strong bonds, but even stronger that that is the bond we have with each other’s hearts and minds. Pakistan remains emboldened to China for its support of us over the years ”. This was stated by Honourable President Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Sardar Masood Khan during his address as Keynote Speaker at a Roundtable Discussion at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) today with a Chinese Delegation from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Officials from the Chinese Embassy were also in attendance. The agenda was to brief the delegates on Pakistan’s foreign policy.
Sardar Masood Khan stated that though it is now commonplace to say that Pakistan and China enjoy all-weather friendship, but there is more substance to this hyperbole. The two countries have remained steadfast in their support of each other – not only at the level of the leadership, but at the grassroots level as well. Barring all changes at the political level, the leadership on both sides have been conscious that they need to work on this relationship. Over the years, the political, economic and strategic bonds have grown stronger. He said that emergence of the BRI is a global initiative and Pakistanis are proud that CPEC is the flagship project of this. He cited the misgivings and misinformation being spread by Indian and Western sources as a big challenge for both Pakistan and China. It is the responsibility of think tanks to squash these rumors and bring out the truth, he said. He went on to say that both Pakistan and China have to work together and develop a common narrative. He also talked of the Kashmir issue which he said was not about separatism, extremism or terrorism but about the realization of the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir.
The main points raised during the discussion was that the world is moving towards multilateralism and globalization from unilateralism and protectionism. Pakistan-China relations have entered a new era, especially after the second BRI Conference, where all misconceptions about the BRI and CPEC were cleared. It was also discussed how during the upcoming G20 summit, the Chinese premier should be able to convince Japan to get out of the quad formed by the United States in the Indo-Pacific region which, in essence, is a manifestation of US and India’s own strategic designs without any economic angle to it. The Chinese guests also talked about the recent World Bank report which has stated that the BRI can improve the world economy and increase the world’s GDP by one per cent by 2020.
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Director General ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry highlighted how Pakistan’s relations with China are central to Pakistan’s foreign policy agenda. He stated that Pakistan continues to believe that peaceful solutions should be found to all regional problems. A core agenda of the foreign policy of Pakistan is the resolution of the Kashmir issue on which India is taking a hard line approach. He went on to highlight the two trends in the world today; one is dominated by unilateralism, while the other is a globalism approach where connectivity is a priority. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an example of the latter of which the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the pilot project, he said.
While concluding the discussion, Chairman BOG, ISSI Ambassador Khalid Mahmood talked of the depth of Pakistan-China friendship and how they have always supported each other on all forums. The relationship is a role model for all bilateral relations because even though there is very little in common culturally, the two have built a foundation on the principles of mutual trust, he said.