Pak-China Diplomatic Annual Review 2022: A Critical Review
Editor's Note: The author is Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan, Executive Director of the Center for South Asia & International Studies (CSAIS), Islamabad, and Regional Expert on China, CPEC & BRI. This article only reflects the opinion of the author, not necessarily of Gwadar Pro.
The 71st anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China was celebrated with pride and trust in 2022.
In this connection, despite a difficult year of socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic complex and complicated conflict realities and reasons the iron-clad friendship between Pakistan and China remains strong.
During the year 2022 the government of China politically and diplomatically helped and rescued Pakistan from many imminent international pressures on the issues of nuclear supplier group, anti-terrorism, and Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
On the issue of peace and stability in Afghanistan the Chinese policy makers had numerous serious consultations and meetings with the government of Pakistan which showed sustainable diplomatic ties between the two brotherly countries. The foreign minister and prime minister of Pakistan had fruitful diplomatic engagements with the Chinese counterparts in the sidelines meeting in SCO, CICA and COP27 which indeed played an important role in the further strengthening of diplomatic bilateral relations between the two strategic partners.
In this regard, at the special invitation of the former State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari visited China on 21-22 May 2022. During the visit, they thoroughly discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations, with a particular focus on boosting bilateral trade and economic cooperation and fast-tracking progress on CPEC.
Unfortunately, Pakistan had to confront unprecedented floods in the country from August 2022 which badly damaged infrastructures, industries, capacities along with collateral losses. During this period the Chinese leadership extended their support to the government and people of Pakistan.
According to Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, China provided Pakistan with larger quantities of tents, blankets and pieces of waterproof canvas. The Chinese government, Chinese companies, people and institutions remained first in their lavish financial and humanitarian assistance to the government and people of Pakistan.
On its part the government of Pakistan fully supported China on various issues on the global arena, including the Global Development & Global Security Initiatives.
Furthermore, the Chinese leadership supported the Pakistani proposal of seeking climate justice during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and COP27. It further highlighted the qualitative trust between both the states which share common vision about climate change, South-South dialogue, and shared prosperity for collective human survival on this planet.
Ultimately, the maiden visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to China in November 2022 since assuming office proved productive for the further development of CPEC. During the visit lots of proposals, propositions, plans, programmes and projects were discussed and approved, paving the way for future socio-economic development, geopolitical stability and last but not the least geo-strategic sustainability for both countries.
Mega energy projects including solar energy, hydro-power generation, coal and even wind energy, infrastructure upgrading and realignment including ML-l, and Karachi clean drinking water projects are high on the agenda during the said visit.
To conclude, bilateral diplomatic ties between Pakistan and China remained successful and further strengthened in terms of socio-economic cooperation, banking & financial integration, social cohesion/development, political mutual consultation, maturity and last but not least, sustainable bilateral military cooperation.
For the further strengthening of diplomatic ties/relations both sides should form and draw on new corridors mainly China-Pakistan Digital Corridor (CPDC), China-Pakistan Green Corridor (CPGC), China-Pakistan Health Corridor (CPHC), China-Pakistan Artificial Intelligence Corridor (CPAIC), China-Pakistan Agriculture Corridor (CPAC) and last but not the least China-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor (CPKC) which would be value addition for both countries in the days to come.
It is suggested that more focus should be given to extend cooperation in institutionalisation of e-commerce, quantum communications, block-chain technologies, IT Supply Chains, CHIPS, big data processing and integration, and last but not the least, qualitative development in science and technology and space sciences in CPEC Phase-II. Moreover, joint efforts should be started to achieve desired goals against looming threat of global warming and promote green energy.
Instability in Afghanistan, increasing incidents of regional terrorism, Russia-Ukraine conflict, Indo-Pacific region and other global issues pertaining to economic quick recovery must be the mantra of Pakistan and China in 2023 and beyond.