Visit shows unique ties: envoy
Updated: 2013-05-23 07:48
By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily)
Diplomat predicts strengthened economic links between nations
Pakistan-China friendship is built on "complete mutual trust", and Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Pakistan will give a major boost to economic links between the two countries, said Masood Khalid, Pakistan's ambassador to China.
Li's decision to visit Pakistan during his first foreign trip soon after taking office bears testimony to the unique ties between Pakistan and China, Khalid told China Daily.
"What many people do not know is that this is, in fact, Premier Li's second visit to Pakistan. He previously visited Pakistan as head of a youth delegation in 1986," he said.
During the visit from Wednesday to Thursday, all issues of mutual interest are expected to be on the agenda. As close strategic partners, Pakistan and China will coordinate their positions on important bilateral, regional and global issues.
"The frequency of high-level exchanges between Pakistan and China is the hallmark of our all-weather and time-tested friendship," Khalid said.
The two countries maintain strong defense cooperation, and the two militaries also work closely together in various areas, including counterterrorism cooperation.
The ambassador said the visit has a special focus on deepening economic cooperation, which has been the two countries' priority in recent years.
Bilateral trade between China and Pakistan has risen from $8.7 billion in 2010 to $12.4 billion last year, and it is expected to reach $15 billion by 2015. By 2012, Chinese investment in Pakistan totaled $2.1 billion.
"There is a strong desire on both sides to foster greater trade and economic connectivity", and Pakistan is interested in developing trade and energy links, Khalid said.
The Pakistan-China Joint Energy Working Group, established two years ago, is now aiming to enhance cooperation in the conventional and alternative energy sectors.
"There is tremendous potential for more cooperation, and such connectivity projects will accelerate economic integration in the region and also complement China's strategy for developing its western region," he said.
The two countries are also cooperating on 36 projects worth $14 billion under the Second Five-Year Pakistan-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Plan. These projects cover a wide range of areas, including energy, infrastructure and agriculture, he added.
Meanwhile, the close ties at the political and leadership level resonate at the grassroots level, the ambassador said.
The two countries have a rich history of people-to-people and cultural relations. Every year, they exchange 100-member youth delegations.
The people of Pakistan and China have deep affection and goodwill for each other. It is our duty to pass the great traditions of this relationship to future generations, Khalid said.
"This is rooted in shared interests and convergence of views on all vital bilateral and regional issues," the ambassador said.
(China Daily 05/23/2013 page4)