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Home >> World
UPDATED: 11:05, April 02, 2005
Interview: Pakistani PM says China is true friend
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Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz gave a general evaluation of the Pak-Sino relations Friday, saying Pakistan sees China as a true friend.

He also talked about the coming visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao from April 5 to 7 and said an Early Harvest Agreement will be signed by the two countries during the three-day visit.

In an joint interview made by the Chinese media based in Islamabad, Aziz spoke highly of the friendly Pak-Sino relations. " Pakistan and China have deep friendship, which has developed over decades of close contacts with each other, and the basis of our relationship is shared values. We share position on major issues facing the world," he said.

"Pakistan considers China as a true friend and both countries have stood by each other in the hour of need," Aziz stressed.

"They (The Pakistanis) think China as one of the best and closest friend. You go in the bazaar and ask who is the best friend, and they say China. People love China and we are proud of our friendship with China," Aziz said while deliberating on the deep friendship between the two neighbors.

He emphasized that the relations between the two friendly countries can benefit each other and are win-win for both sides.

"And when your friends get stronger and successful, it is a cause of strength for you and vice versa. China is realizing that Pakistan is also taking off economically. So it's a win-win for both. The relations will be win-win for both countries," Aziz noted.

Talking on the future and essence of the Pak-Sino relations, Aziz said "We also believe that the long-term vision of the Pak- Sino relations is one of working to ensure peace in the world, growth and development in the world and helping each other politically, diplomatically, economically and growing the cultural ties and people to people contacts."

When asked about the Chinese premier's visit and the topics during their meeting, Aziz said he is very pleased that Premier Wen Jiabao is starting his trip to South Asia from Pakistan, which will be part of the ongoing process for the two countries to increase their cooperation even more.

During Wen's visit, the two sides will sign several agreements. They are likely to sign an Early Harvest Agreement, which allows special tariff arrangements for certain products and is the first stage to a free trade agreement (FTA).

"The FTA in my view will be a turning point in the trade relations between the two countries," said Aziz.

The two sides will also discuss the regional situation, Pakistan's relations with countries in the region and around, the situation in Asia and the world and the issue of the United Nations' reforms, according to the prime minister.

"China and Pakistan consult each other regularly on major diplomatic issues and this is a very good mechanism we have developed to share ideas and our views, and come up with positions on various issues," he said.

Aziz is very optimistic about and proud of Pakistan's economic progress, which, he believes, can benefit the Sino-Pak trade very much.

"Pakistan is on the path to high economic growth and this year it will have a growth of more than 7 percent," said Aziz, claiming Pakistan "will be among the top ten growth countries in Asia this year."

"Under five years of President Pervez Musharraf's reform program, Pakistan of today and tomorrow is not of the yesterday. Pakistan of today and tomorrow is an exciting, growing, developing country," Aziz said confidently.

He noted that the country's security situation is getting much better now and that there are so many foreigners coming that it is difficult to get hotel rooms in major cities.

Aziz thinks Pakistan's economic development means more trade with China. "We will have much more demand, the growing middle class, spending more, need for many goods and services and China obviously can play a part," He noted, taking as an example the entry of the Chinese motorcycle industry into the Pakistani market.

"We have many Chinese motorcycles in Pakistan. We also have the Qingqi being manufactured here and very popular in the rural areas, replacing horse-drawn carriages. Then we are also getting many parts of automobiles from China to meet the demand. Also the Chinese jeeps are being made here and the buses and trucks," Aziz noted.

The prime minister affirmed that as the country's economy expands, Pakistan will be a big market for China and it also wants to be a part of the big Chinese market.

Referring to the multi-faceted bilateral cooperation, Aziz said the areas of cooperation between Pakistan and China are "extensive."

In the defense areas, the two countries are jointly producing defense equipment and aircraft; in the field of power generation, Pakistan hopes to finalize the Chashma II nuclear power station with the help of the Chinese government; in the security cooperation, the two countries are working closely to address terrorism; they can also cooperate in the field of tourism, said Aziz.

He listed the advantages Pakistan has to attract Chinese investment. The Karakoram highway running from China to the inland of Pakistan is a land bridge between the two countries, which offers a corridor to China to access the warm waters of the Arabian Sea and strengthens greatly the cooperation between West China and Pakistan.

Pakistan can serve as a base for Chinese companies to manufacture and assemble and export to the Middle East and Africa and beyond.

Pakistan has offered industrial parks to Chinese entrepreneurs and will give them the land and they can run it themselves.

Pakistan and China have the potential for cooperation in chemical, engineering, construction, rolling stock, and in infrastructure such as roads, ports, bridges and housing, said Aziz.

He also detected the new areas for bilateral cooperation of agriculture and agro-based industry and corporate farming as China has good technology in such fields, and said the Pakistani people love to deal with Chinese companies.

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