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Late-night Phone Call, Quick Action, and Deep Brotherhood

- Speech by Director-General Liu Jinsong of the Asian Affairs Department of the Foreign Ministry at the Second China-Pakistan Think Tank Forum

2022-09-08 23:55

On September 8, 2022, Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Liu Jinsong attended and addressed the second China-Pakistan Think Tank Forum online. The Forum was co-hosted by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad of Pakistan and the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. His speech went as follows:

Over the past year, China-Pakistan relations have stood various tests, and our friendship remains rock-solid. Three things impressed me most:

First, China made all-out efforts to help Pakistan after it was hit by the floods. Since June this year, Pakistan has been stricken by the worst flood disaster in decades, which has caused 1,000 plus deaths and affected over 33 million people. Satellite images showed that one-eighth of Pakistan was flooded. Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan His Excellency Nong Rong told me that when he accompanied Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari visiting the disaster areas on the plane, he saw the vast rural areas in Sindh Province flooded as an ocean. I also learned from the TV news that in disaster-stricken areas, heavy rains and floods have destroyed bridges and roads, interrupted traffic, inundated farmland, swept away houses, and displaced people from home and students from schools. The Chinese people, deeply understand what the Pakistani people have suffered, are worried and in sorrow. And facing the floods, the Pakistani people stayed united saving themselves and quickly began to rebuild their homes, demonstrating their indomitable national character. Such scenes are admirable.

China and Pakistan are ironclad brothers with a long tradition of helping and supporting each other. We will never forget that in the wake of the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, Pakistan took out all tents in its stock and promptly sent them to the disaster-hit areas in China by military aircraft. As a Chinese saying goes, "Receiving drips of water when in need, and I shall return the kindness with a spring", we see the current difficulties faced by Pakistan, our ironclad brothers, as our own difficulties. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have sent messages of condolence to President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, respectively. Under the social and livelihood cooperation framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China has provided 4,000 tents, 50,000 blankets and 50,000 pieces of waterproof tarp to Pakistan. They have been delivered to the frontline of disaster relief.

On the late night of August 22, when Pakistani Ambassador to China H.E. Mr. Moin ul Haque contacted me and asked for emergency assistance from China, we took action in the early morning to fully support Pakistan's fight against floods. After emergency coordination by the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), China provided 100-million-yuan emergency humanitarian assistance for Pakistan. The first batch of 3,000 tents out of 25,000 tents was shipped to Pakistan from Sichuan by military aircraft at the end of August and was put into use in the disaster-hit areas. In light of the development of the disaster, the CIDCA has provided additional 300-million-yuan emergency humanitarian assistance. Efforts to provide other urgently-needed materials such as vegetables and tents are underway.

The Chinese people also actively lent a helping hand. A few hours after the Pakistani Embassy in China opened a dedicated bank account for Prime Minister's Flood Relief Fund 2022, it received a combined donation of one million yuan. A schoolboy named Luan Mingxuan in Beijing donated all his pocket money. Chinese non-governmental rescue teams spontaneously headed to Pakistan for disaster relief, and Chinese enterprises in Pakistan took the initiative to repair roads and bridges in the affected areas. Recently, Prime Minister Shehbaz also expressed condolences over the casualties caused by the earthquake in Luding, Sichuan Province. A ruthless flood disaster can bring out the best of humanity. The friendship between China and Pakistan, which is higher than mountains, deeper than sea and sweeter than honey, has been verified again. As a Chinese saying goes, "If brothers are firmly united, they could be like a knife that can cut through metal", I believe that our Pakistani brothers will be able to prevail over the disaster and rebuild their homes.

Second, the CPEC is effectively supporting Pakistan's economic development and social stability. Not long ago, the Karot Hydropower Plant project, the first of its kind under the CPEC, was completed and put into operation after seven years of construction, bringing thousands of job opportunities to the local people. With an average annual energy output of about 3.2 billion kWh, the plant will provide cheap and clean energy for 5 million local households. It is estimated that the annual carbon dioxide emission can be reduced by 3.5 million tons, which will effectively help Pakistan improve its energy security and promote green transformation.

Now, the CPEC has entered the stage of high-quality development. Prime Minister Shehbaz, attaching great importance to the construction of the CPEC, has visited the Gwadar Port twice and held a symposium for Chinese-funded enterprises, during which he coordinated and responded to the demands of enterprises. Investment promotion for the Rashakai Special Economic Zone is progressing smoothly, and solid steps are being taken to advance cooperation in industries, agriculture, society and people's livelihood, thus making sustained and new contributions to Pakistan's industrialization and modernization.

Third, Pakistan firmly supports the Chinese side on issues concerning China's core interests such as Taiwan and Xinjiang. Last month, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi paid a sneaky visit to China's Taiwan region. It seriously violated China's sovereignty, interfered in China's internal affairs and jeopardized peace across the Taiwan Strait. The Pakistani government, parliament and people from all political parties have come forward without hesitation, to reaffirm their commitment to the one-China principle, and together with more than 100 countries in the world, to speak out for justice. Regarding the recently released so-called Xinjiang-related assessment by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry spoke up for China at the earliest opportunity, offering China invaluable support on Xinjiang-related issues. I grew up in Xinjiang. Of all people, the people in Xinjiang, whatever their ethnic backgrounds, are in the best position to tell the world what the human rights conditions are like in Xinjiang. Anyone who has been to Xinjiang says that Xinjiang is a nice place. Over the past five years, there has not been any terrorist incident in Xinjiang. This summer, Xinjiang was the most popular destination for domestic tourists, and rumors spread by the United States and other Western countries fell apart.

Under the intertwined impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukraine crisis and the beggar-thy-neighbor financial policies of some developed countries, issues related to the security of food, energy, finance, industrial and supply chains and ecology have become increasingly prominent. Many Asian countries encounter rising food prices, shortage of chemical fertilizers and climbing energy prices. Some Asian countries have seen continued depreciation of their currencies, declining foreign reserves and high inflation. The rising financial risks have been transmitted to the people's livelihood, causing political turmoil in some countries. Some western countries attempted to build "a small yard with high fences" and decouple with others. As a result, the regional industrial and supply chains are at risk of breaking. Against this backdrop, as all-weather strategic cooperative partners, China and Pakistan need to make efforts in the following aspects:

- Strengthen solidarity, cooperation and mutual support. The two sides should maintain the tradition of high-level exchanges, firmly support each other in safeguarding respective core interests, and be solid strategic support for each other. China is ready to share its experience in state governance with Pakistan and fully support Pakistan's disaster relief and post-disaster reconstruction.

- Jointly pursue high-quality CPEC cooperation. The two sides should make joint efforts to strengthen industrial cooperation and forge secure and stable industrial and supply chains; step up cooperation on law enforcement and security to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in Pakistan; and jointly share "CPEC stories" to let lies and rumors fall apart.

- Take the lead in implementing the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and the Global Security Initiative (GSI). The two sides should strengthen cooperation in poverty alleviation, food security, pandemic response and vaccine, development financing, climate change and green development, industrialization, digital economy, connectivity and other fields, and should take the lead in implementing the 32 deliverables of the High-level Dialogue on Global Development. It's important to implement the GSI, stay committed to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, act on true multilateralism, and contribute our strengths to maintaining peace and tranquility in the region and the world at large. An old Chinese saying goes, "Faith will move a mountain". The founding father of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah once said that "We are not afraid of the deep sea or the fire, because we believe in the sun and the future." I am convinced that with the joint efforts of friends from all walks of life in both countries, including scholars from think-tanks, China-Pakistan relations will surely usher in a brighter future!

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Acting Director of the China Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan Bilal Akram Shah expressed condolences to the victims of the earthquake on Sept. 5 in Luding, China's Sichuan province, and extended sympathy to the bereaved families and the injured. Bilal spoke highly of China-Pakistan relations, and expressed sincere gratitude for China's much-needed support for Pakistan in fighting floods and disaster relief. Bilal said, Pakistan appreciates the GSI and the GDI, both proposed by President Xi Jinping. Conflict and confrontation will not bring benefits to any country. Instead, cooperation and development are the mainstream of the times. Pakistan is ready to continue to work with China to deepen the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries, and promote Belt and Road cooperation, especially the high-quality CPEC cooperation, so as to make positive contributions to regional peace and stability.

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