Pakistan, China to ‘further strengthen cooperation’ in developing coronavirus vaccine


ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday met his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in China’s Hainan province where both sides agreed to “further strengthen cooperation in developing a vaccine to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic”.

According to a joint statement issued Friday following the second round of China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue in Hainan Province, China, Qureshi and Wang “exchanged views on COVID-19 pandemic, bilateral relations, and international and regional issues of mutual interest, and reached consensus to collectively take measures to safeguard their common interests and promote peace, prosperity, and development in the region”.

The statement noted that Pakistan and China have “stood in solidarity and worked together since the COVID-19 outbreak by timely sharing of experiences relating to the prevention and control of the virus, mutual support in providing medical materials, and have set an example for international community to jointly fight the pandemic”.

It was recognised that “unity and cooperation are the most powerful weapons for the international community against the disease”.

The two sides “opposed politicising the pandemic, labeling viruses and supported WHO to play a leading role in global public health governance”.

They called for the international community to “increase the sense of a community of shared future and carry out effective joint prevention and control measures in order to mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19”.

CPEC, BRI, and support on national interests

“Both sides reiterated that the enduring China-Pakistan All-weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership is beneficial to international and regional peace and stability, and serves the mutual security and development interests of both countries as well as of international community and regional countries,” it added further.

The two foreign ministers remained committed to implementing of decisions made by their respective leaders, enhancing mutual trust, strengthening cooperation, maintaining the momentum of high-level exchanges, advancing construction of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), promoting bilateral relationship further, and delivering greater benefits to both nations and their peoples.

Pakistan and China also reiterated their resolve to continue supporting each other on respective core national interests. Beijing said the two nations were “iron brothers and Pakistan remains China’s staunchest partner in the region”.

“China firmly supports Pakistan in safeguarding its territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence, independently choosing a development path based on its national conditions, striving for a better external security environment and playing a more constructive role on international and regional affairs,” the statement added.

Pakistani, in response, thanked China for standing strong with Islamabad in safeguarding its national security and sovereignty.

Pakistan also “reaffirmed its firm support to China on affairs concerning China’s core interests and issues of major concern, such as those related to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong”, the statement read.

The two sides noted how the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has entered the new phase of high-quality development. The joint project has played and would continue to play a crucial role in helping Pakistan overcome the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and achieve greater development.

With regard to the project, both countries also vowed to “firmly advance the construction of CPEC, ensure in-time completion of those projects under construction, focus on economic and social development, job creation and improvement of people’s livelihood, and further strengthen cooperation in Specialized Economic Zones, industrial relocation, science and technology, medical and health, human resources training, poverty alleviation, and agriculture etc., with the aim to continuously unleash the great potential of CPEC to make it a hub of regional connectivity”.

The two countries looked forward to convening the 10th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting at the earliest to promote the CPEC and make positive contributions to the high-quality construction of BRI. They also welcomed the international community to join in the CPEC construction.

Kashmir ‘a dispute left over from history’

The nations also expressed satisfaction over cooperation on regional and international issues at multilateral forums, such as the UN, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and ASEAN Regional Forum.

They reiterated their commitment to the UN Charter and support for multilateralism, free trade and win-win cooperation, and opposition to unilateralism, protectionism, and coercive practices. They also emphasised on peaceful, stable, cooperative and prosperous South Asia, which was in common interest of all parties.

“The Pakistani side briefed the Chinese side on the situation in Jammu & Kashmir, including its concerns, position and current urgent issues,” the statement added.

“The Chinese side reiterated that the Kashmir issue is a dispute left over from history between India and Pakistan, which is an objective fact, and that the dispute should be resolved peacefully and properly through the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.

“China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation,” it added.

Commitment to ‘Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace’

With regard to Afghanistan, both side lauded the efforts towards initiating the Intra-Afghan talks. “They emphasized the importance of an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive negotiated agreement for future political settlement in Afghanistan.

“While reaffirming their commitment to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned Peace Process, both sides encouraged relevant parties in Afghanistan to seize this historic opportunity and commence the Intra-Afghan Negotiations at the earliest leading to durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

“China appreciated Pakistan’s positive contribution to the Afghan peace process and efforts for promoting peace and stability in region and beyond.

“Both China and Pakistan reaffirmed the vitality of the time-tested and All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership between the two countries which remains unaffected by the vicissitudes of the regional and international developments and continues to move from strength to strength,” the statement added.

Qureshi, Wang greet one another with an elbow bump

The foreign minister’s social media team shared a video showing Wang welcoming Qureshi and the two leaders elbow bumping each other as a form of greeting, to guard against the spread of COVID-19.

Kashmir important for both China, Pakistan

Earlier in the day, the foreign minister spoke about his visit to China in a conversation with Geo News, stating that lots of developments had taken place over the past one year that needed to be discussed between the two countries.

“Pakistan, with the help of China, raised the issue of occupied Kashmir three times at the UN Security Council in one year,” he said.

“China had a standoff with India as well on occupied Kashmir, which has not ended. Hence, you can see that Kashmir is important for both countries,” he added.

The minister said Pakistan and China would also discuss the evolving situation in Afghanistan, as both the government and Taliban move closer towards a political settlement after the exchange of prisoners there.

FM Qureshi revealed that before the trip, he had held detailed discussions with PM Imran and Gen Bajwa. He said people from the Foreign Office and those representing the GHQ were also accompanying him on the trip.

He said the CPEC would also come under discussion during his visit, that both countries had to discuss the time frame of certain schemes part of the project, which included Gwadar, and also deliberate on its targets.

‘Not everyone understands depth of Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia’

Qureshi had categorically rejected speculation that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia’s ties had deteriorated, adding that both countries were each others’ “necessity and support”.

“Pakistan and Saudi Arabia’s ties are and were always better,” the foreign minister said. “I think no one understands the depth of our relations with each other.

“We are each others’ necessity and support,” he added.

He pointed towards Saudi Arabia’s stance on the issue of Israel, adding that the Kingdom had not strayed from its historic stance on the issue and that Pakistan held the same view.

FM Qureshi said Gen Bajwa recently visited Riyadh where he held important meetings. He expressed the desire for future meetings to be held with Saudi Arabia on important issues, hoping that both countries fulfilled the targets and expectations they had of each other.

Qureshi arrives in China

Qureshi arrived in southern China’s Hainan province on Thursday night to attend the second meeting of the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson had said the visit would help the two countries enhance strategic mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation, and strengthen close coordination on international and regional affairs.

“This dialogue mechanism is a platform for the two sides to coordinate exchanges and cooperation in various fields, make policy suggestions on the development of bilateral ties and enhance coordination and co-communication on the international and regional issues,” the spokesperson had said.

The first dialogue was held in Beijing last year on March 19, leading to many consensuses and playing an important role in the development of bilateral relations.

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