BEIJING: China would continue to see Pakistan as priority in its neighbourhood diplomacy and work with it to take Pak-China relations to new heights, Chinese Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs Han Changfu said on Friday.
“As the all-weather strategic partner of China, I believe that Pakistan will become one of the primary beneficiaries of China’s development and progress,” he said while addressing a big gathering at a reception hosted by Pakistan embassy in connection with Pakistan Day.
He said that the two countries continued to strengthen their cooperation in complex regional and international circumstances.
“During Chinese President Xi Jinping visit to Pakistan in 2015, Pak-China bilateral ties elevated to all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, starting a new chapter in our relations,” he said.
The Chinese minister opined that acting on consensus reached by the two leaders, the two countries needed to further strengthen partnership and mutual trust, speed up the building of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and expand people to people exchanges to strengthen ties among the people and also particularly strengthen cooperation in agriculture development and poverty alleviation.
Han Changfu said at the international fora that Pakistan had become an important force and played a positive role in United Nations (UN), Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and other multilateral organisations. Dedicated to the international counter-terrorism fight, Pakistan had rendered enormous sacrifices and made major contributions for the peace and stability of the region and the world at large, he added.
He said that Pak-China friendship had a long history and it was getting strong over the years. Pakistan was among first countries to recognise the founding of new China and also the first Islamic state to establish diplomatic ties with China.
The Chinese minister said that since the inception of diplomatic relations, Pak-China relations had withstood all the challenges at the international level and also went through challenges in domestic circumstances.
“We have forged an all-weather friendship that is higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, stronger than iron and sweeter than honey and we have conducted all dimensional strategic cooperation,” he added.
Han Changfu said that over the past 78 years, the hardworking Pakistani people had shown great wisdom in building up their country and their efforts had paid off as Pakistan had grown in national strength and the people enjoyed a better standard of living.
On behalf of the Chinese government, he also extended warmest congratulations to Pakistan on the78th Pakistan Day.
In his welcome address, Pakistan Ambassador to China Masood Khalid said that March 23 was a historic day for Pakistan. On the very day, the Muslims of Indian Subcontinent adopted the Lahore Resolution which heralded the beginning of a practical struggle for the attainment of Pakistan.
He paid tribute to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Dr Muhammad Iqbal and the leading lights of the freedom movement.
Pakistan’s Ambassador Khalid said that this year Pakistan celebrated the 67th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with China. “Our all-weather strategic cooperative partnership is an account of mutual trust, respect and shared values,” he added.
He said that their relationship had over time transformed into one of the most important relationships in Asia and served as a model in inter-state relationships.
He also said that CPEC’s launch had further deepened the friendship. In the outgoing year, CPEC had achieved steady progress in the area of energy, transportation, networks and Gwadar Port, which was operational now and the first phase of the trade zone had been launched. At present 22 projects were under implementation, he added.
He further said that the completion of each CPEC project brought “us closer to a realisation of our shared vision for regional connectivity, trade, and infrastructure and energy resources development.”
“It is a model of win-win cooperation between our two countries as well as other countries in the region,” he added.
The ambassador said that bilateral cultural exchanges and people-to-people contact had intensified in recent years, promoting goodwill and friendship between the two nations. “We will continue to strengthen our linkages in all fields and take our bilateral relations to new heights,” he added.
Later, the chief guest along with the other distinguished guest attended the cake-cutting ceremony.
Two Pakistani pianists enthralled the audience with different tunes of national songs.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) General Secretary Rashid Alimov, senior diplomats and officials, traders, and a large number of Chinese and Pakistanis attended the reception.