Pakistan and China have decided to celebrate their friendship next year.
“Both sides decided to celebrate Pakistan-China Year of Friendship/Sister Cities in 2019 and to establish friendship city relationships between corresponding Chinese and Pakistani cities and provinces,” read a joint statement issued on Sunday. “The friendship between Pakistan and China has withstood the test of time, notwithstanding the changes in domestic, regional and international environments.”
PM Imran Khan is currently visiting China. He left the country on Friday. During the visit, the two sides signed 15 MoUs on a range of bilateral issues.
Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his appreciation to the leadership and people of China for the warm hospitality accorded to him and his delegation and invited Chinese leaders to visit Pakistan at a mutually convenient time.
The countries agreed to strengthen their relations with increase cooperation in political relations, CPEC, trade, science, social sector, defence and culture.
“The Chinese side reiterated that China’s relationship with Pakistan is always a matter of highest priority in its foreign policy,” the statement said.
Both sides agreed to maintain the frequent exchange of visits and meetings at the leadership level and continue to hold bilateral meetings.
Khan commended President Xi Jinping’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and said that project is “a win-win model of international cooperation [which] provides new opportunities for economic rejuvenation and prosperity of all countries.”
As a signature project of BRI, the fast development of CPEC has played a significant role in the Belt and Road cooperation.
Both the sides recognised the significance of Gwadar as an important node in cross-regional connectivity and the central pillar of CPEC, and agreed to speed up the port projects.
The two sides agreed to actively promote 2012-2020 Space Cooperation Outline between China National Space Administration (CNSA) and Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO).
China helped Pakistan launch remote sensing satellite earlier this year.
The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in the field of manned space, and the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) and SUPARCO will sign a framework agreement on cooperation.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry remarked that Pakistan will send its first astronaut in space by 2022.
China will also strengthen coordination with Pakistan on exploration and utilisation of marine resources, marine scientific research, and marine environmental protection. They will explore the use of emerging technologies, such as biotech and nanotech, bring improvements in health, agriculture, water, energy, and food security.
China agreed to help Pakistan combat poverty. China was able to lift more than 700 million people out of poverty over the last forty years.
“China is willing to strengthen policy dialogue, experience sharing and capacity building in the field of poverty reduction with Pakistan, and support Pakistan to establish poverty alleviation demonstration projects,” the statement read.
They will also enhance collaboration in healthcare, medical and surgical treatment, disease surveillance and control, vaccine production as well as traditional medicine.
Expect cooperation in culture, arts, broadcasting, films, publication, and sports under the Executive Programme of the Cultural Agreement between the two countries.
They expect to open more museums and supporting publishing houses to translate and print literary classics. The two are keen on discussing the possibility of organising an ‘Ancient Pakistan and Gandhara Artifacts Exhibition’ in Beijing.
China will offer additional scholarships to Pakistani students and universities will be encouraged to promote exchange programmes. The two sides also agreed to establish the China-Pakistan Youth Communication Committee, which will coordinate the exchange of youth and cooperation on youth affairs.
Peace in Afghanistan
The two agreed that a “peaceful, stable, cooperative and prosperous South Asia is in the common interest of all parties.” Both the countries will support the ‘Afghan-owned and Afghan-led’ peace and reconciliation process.
China appreciates that Pakistan and Afghanistan are coordinating closely through the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity to enhance cooperation between the two countries in all areas, the statement said.
Both sides supported Afghanistan to host the second tripartite foreign ministers dialogue within this year.
China also supports Pakistan’s efforts for improvement of Pakistan-India relations and for settlement of outstanding disputes between the two countries.
They have agreed to maintain close communication and coordination within international and regional organizations and mechanisms such as the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, SAARC, the Asia-Europe Meeting, the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia.