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Time tested friends: Pakistani president sets new milestone with visit to China during epidemic

By Zamir Ahmed Awan (People's Daily Online)    09:47, March 19, 2020

At the invitation of President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China, Pakistani President Dr. Arif Alvi visited China from 16-17 March 2020. He was accompanied by a delegation including the Foreign Minister, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives and senior officials. The President Dr. Arif Alvi met with President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders. 

During the visit, the two presidents witnessed the signing of various agreements and MoUs.

The “MoU on Establishing Joint Working Group on Science and Technology and Agriculture between the Governments of the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan” will lead to the establishment of two separate joint working groups, one on science and technology and the other on agriculture, under the overall rubric of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The “MoU between Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China (MARA) and Ministry of National Food Security and Research of Pakistan (NFS&R) on Strengthening Cooperation on Plant and Disease Control” will help with the monitoring and control of major pests and diseases and improve agricultural productivity.

Letters of Exchange signed at the ceremony will also play an important role in combating COVID-19 in Pakistan.

This was the first visit to China by a Pakistani leader since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, and is singularly aimed at conveying the strong support and solidarity of Pakistan for the government and people of China while Beijing is resolutely engaged in efforts to contain and deal with the spread of Covid-19.

The visit will play an important role in further solidifying the historic bonds of trust and mutual support between the two “iron brothers”. It will also serve as an opportunity for the leadership of the two countries to review bilateral, regional and international issues and to advance the shared goals of promoting peace, prosperity, and development in the region and beyond. Pakistan and China are the closest of friends and staunch partners. The two countries are joined together in an “All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership.” This time-tested friendship is based on unparalleled mutual trust, understanding, and commonality of interests. The leadership of both countries is fully committed to building a closer China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future in the New Era.

In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, a few countries attempted to blame and bash China. A few made derogatory remarks. Some nations evacuated their nationals from China, suspended flights, trade and social contact. Some countries canceled their scheduled visits with China. Western media launched a kind of hybrid war against China and saw it as an opportunity. However, China, through its excellent governance system and the hard work of its health workers, finally achieved victory against COVID-19. The new cases reported and casualties have almost dropped down to single digits.

As its closest friend, Pakistan has decided to show solidarity with China at this crucial moment. We stand with our brothers and sisters in China.

The visit by the “Iron brother” president was very important and boosts morale and diplomatic support for China. It will further strengthen the existing bond of friendship and may open new avenues of time-tested friendship. Pakistan was one of the few countries that did not evacuate its nationals from China. It restored flights after 3 days of temporary suspension. Pakistan extended its cooperation and gave medical supplies to assist China.

We are two nations with a shared destiny and stand with each other in all difficult times. Pakistan has been through several tough times in its history and China has always proven to be a dependable and reliable friend. Our relationship goes beyond the Western philosophy of “Interests make friends or foes”. We enjoy a very special relationship, which has the Chinese term “Ba Tie”, a unique terminology used to express the friendship between China and Pakistan. This term is used only for Pakistan, and no other country can match it.

I believe it will convey a positive message to the rest of the world. The type of trust and sincerity between China and Pakistan is an ideal example and can be used as a reference for other nations and generations to come. The relationship between China and Pakistan is stronger than steel, higher than mountains, deeper than the ocean and sweeter than honey. 

The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to People's Daily Online.

Zamir Ahmed Awan is a senior fellow with the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and a sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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