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Speech by H.E. Li Keqiang Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China at the Senate of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

2013/05/24

Making New Progress in Growing
China-Pakistan All-Weather Friendship

Speech by H.E. Li Keqiang
Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
At the Senate of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Islamabad, 23 May 2013

Your Excellency Senate Chairman Bokhari,
Your Excellency National Assembly Speaker Mirza,
Your Excellencies Members of the Senate,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.

I am so glad to visit the beautiful country of Pakistan on the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of China-Pakistan diplomatic relations and it is a great honor to address the Senate of Pakistan. First of all, I wish to extend, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, our warmest greetings and best wishes to the brotherly Pakistani people. I wish also to express our heartfelt thanks and pay high tribute to friends from all sectors of Pakistani society who have worked so hard over the years to promote friendship with China.

This is my second visit to Pakistan. Twenty-seven years ago, I led a Chinese youth delegation on a visit to Pakistan and met with both government leaders and ordinary people in this country. Every time we parted, they would always say to me: "Chin-Pak dosti zandabad (Long live China-Pakistan friendship)!" Having received such gracious hospitality from the Pakistani government and people during my current visit, I am once again deeply moved by the outpouring of fraternity from the Pakistani people. This experience has strengthened my conviction that China-Pakistan friendship is rock-firm and full of vitality.

Pakistan is a great country with a time-honored history and a brilliant culture. When civilization was still in its infancy in many parts of the world, a splendid civilization had already risen on this land. The ancient ruins of Mohenjo-daro, the exquisite art of Gandhara, the legendary Lahore Fort and the magnificent Badshahi Mosque stand testimony to Pakistan's rich and fascinating culture. The people of this land are hard-working, talented and courageous. Despite conflicts and disasters they suffered from in the past centuries, they have forged ahead with tenacity and fortitude and created one miracle after another. Since the founding of Pakistan over 60 years ago, the Pakistani government and people have successfully met grave challenges and made remarkable achievements in national development and renewal. We salute your success from the bottom of our heart and sincerely hope that the brotherly Pakistani people will make even greater progress in their development endeavors.

Pakistan is actively involved in regional and international affairs and committed to upholding regional and world peace and stability. With growing international standing, Pakistan is playing an important role in both Asia and the world at large. As an important member of the OIC, Pakistan is an influential country in the Islamic world. Pakistan has taken an active part in the regional cooperation process of South Asia. It stands for resolving differences through peaceful dialogue and works with other countries in South Asia to promote prosperity and development in this region, thus contributing greatly to regional and international security. These efforts have won Pakistan recognition and respect from the international community. We are happy to see Pakistan playing an important and constructive role in regional and international affairs.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China-Pakistan friendly exchanges are rooted in history. The ancient Silk Road connected us together. Two eminent Chinese monks, Fahien in the East Jin dynasty and Huen Tsang in the Tang dynasty, studied and taught Buddhism in Pakistan, marking an important page in the friendly exchanges between our two countries. The formal establishment of China-Pakistan diplomatic ties in 1951 ushered our friendly relations into a new era. In the 62 years since then, the all-weather friendship and all-round cooperation between China and Pakistan have stood the test of the changing global environment and set a fine example for the growth of state-to-state relations. The following experience we have gained in growing China-Pakistan relations is an invaluable asset for both countries and should be carried into the future.

- We treat each other with sincerity. Both China and Pakistan stand firm on principle and act in good faith. We respect each other, treat each other with sincerity and enjoy a high degree of mutual trust. Over the past half century and more, China-Pakistan friendly relations have grown in strength from one generation to another, regardless of any change in the international environment or domestic politics. Ours is a brotherly friendship that has been tested by times of difficulty and forged by mutual trust. As our Pakistani friends eloquently put it, "We can give up gold, but not our friendship."

- We support each other and cooperate for mutual benefit. China and Pakistan share the same destiny. We stand together in both good and hard times and treat each other as brothers. We will never forget that on issues concerning China's core interests, Pakistan has always given China unreserved and valuable support. We will never forget that in the 1960s, Pakistani International Airlines (PIA), with a resounding statement, "PIA, First to China", launched the first flight to China, which served as an air corridor linking China with the outside world. And we will never forget that after a massive earthquake hit China's Wenchuan in 2008, Pakistan immediately provided all of its tents in reserve as well as other relief supplies to China. On our part, the Chinese government and people have always stood firmly on the side of Pakistan during the crucial and difficult times when Pakistan was endeavoring to uphold its sovereignty and independence, promote economic and social development, and maintain regional security.

- We have forged close friendship based on popular support. China-Pakistan friendship is built on a profound and broad popular basis, and it is deeply rooted in the hearts of the two peoples. Chinese netizens refer to Pakistan by the endearing name of "Iron Pak", which means Pakistan is a friend as firm and solid as iron to China. In Pakistan, people often say, "If you love Pakistan, please also love China." And here is a story that has deeply moved the 1.3 billion Chinese people: Near the city of Gilgit, there is a Chinese cemetery where over 140 Chinese workers who lost their lives in the construction of the Pakistani section of the Karakorum Highway (KKH) are buried. For over 30 years, some Pakistanis volunteered to work as cemetery keepers. One of them passed away due to illness a few years ago, but his child immediately took over as the new keeper of the cemetery. Today, the young saplings in the cemetery have grown into towering trees. We are truly proud to have such a devoted and enduring friend in Pakistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Peace, development and cooperation are the underlying trend of our times, and Asia has increasingly become one of the most dynamic regions in the world and the focus of international attention. Profound traditional friendship has laid a solid foundation for further growing our friendly relations; and rapid changes in the world today call for lifting China-Pakistan comprehensive strategic cooperation to a higher level. On the other hand, the world is undergoing profound and complex changes, and uncertainties and destabilizing factors are on the rise. Our two countries need to develop closer cooperation and enhance strategic communication to jointly meet international uncertainties and challenges in Asia. China is at a decisive stage of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. To achieve sustained and sound development and upgrade the economy, we need to unleash the benefits of reform and open wider to the world; and westward opening is a major step taken by China in this regard. Pakistan has a unique role to play in China's endeavor to grow relations with countries in South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia. Pakistan's support and cooperation are important to China's development. Pakistan faces arduous tasks of economic and social development. As the closest friend and brother of Pakistan, China will render support and assistance as our ability permits. To help you is to help ourselves. Given the strong complementarity of our economies and the vast space for industrial development and market expansion in both countries, it is highly necessary for us to strengthen cooperation. Our friendship and cooperation meet the fundamental interests of our two peoples and are conducive to maintaining global peace and stability.

As an old Chinese saying goes, "Friendship between chess playmates lasts less than a day. Friendship between diners lasts less than a month. Friendship based on power and influence lasts less than a year. Only friendship based on shared values lasts a lifetime." What we have between China and Pakistan is a friendship based on shared values. It will not only last a lifetime, but also endure from generation to generation and last forever. However strong China may grow, we will always stand shoulder to shoulder with the Pakistani people as good neighbors, good friends, good partners and good brothers, come rain or shine. China will work with Pakistan to forge a stronger, deeper and more solid strategic partnership of cooperation.

We should deepen China-Pakistan comprehensive strategic cooperation. China and Pakistan should keep the tradition of frequent high-level exchanges and enhance communication and coordination on issues involving the major interests of both countries. During my visit, China and Pakistan will issue a Joint Statement on Deepening Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation. We should take this opportunity to step up all-round cooperation and enrich the strategic dimension of our relations.

We should boost pragmatic cooperation. We should continue to make full use of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), hold the second round of tax reduction negotiations in the second phase of the FTA, and upgrade our business relations, so as to expand the size of bilateral trade and work towards a dynamic trade balance. China is ready to work with Pakistan to speed up the upgrading of the KKH and actively explore and develop a long-term plan for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, so as to strengthen the connectivity between South Asia and East Asia and promote economic development and livelihood improvement in the neighborhood. This will not only help expand the shared interests of China and Pakistan, but also provide an exemplary model for cooperation between regional countries. We will also work with Pakistan to launch big projects, enhance financial and investment cooperation, and focus our efforts on infrastructure development, connectivity, maritime, energy, agriculture and defense cooperation.

We should expand people-to-people exchanges. The Chinese government will continue to support bilateral exchanges and cooperation in culture, health, education, tourism and sports and between media and academic institutions so as to strengthen popular support for China-Pakistan friendship. China highly appreciates Pakistan's efforts to promote the learning of Chinese language and will offer more help for such learning. In the next five years, China will train 1,000 language teachers for Pakistan and open more Confucius Institutes in your country. China will continue to support the exchange of 100-member youth delegations and welcome more young people from Pakistan to visit and study in China.

We should increase coordination in regional and international affairs. China will continue to work with Pakistan to enhance communication and coordination, jointly uphold the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, safeguard the overall interests of developing countries, promote democracy in international relations and dialogue between civilizations, and work for the building of a harmonious world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China-Pakistan friendship, nurtured by our two peoples and fostered by succeeding generations of Chinese and Pakistani leaders, has stood the test of hardships and it is more precious than gold. To be friends forever is the shared aspiration of our two peoples. We should continue to forge ahead in both good and difficult times and work together to make new progress in growing China-Pakistan all-weather friendship.

Finally, let me say one more time, "Chin-Pak dosti zandabad" (Long live China-Pakistan friendship)!

Thank you.

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