Sino-Pak strategic dialogue to boost economic cooperation
Pakistan and China have agreed to launch a new 5-year development plan
besides approving proposals for 36 projects, costing $13.285 billion, in
various fields to further boost economic cooperation between the two
By Alauddin Masood
The ongoing Sino-Pakistan strategic dialogue
between Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jia Bao and Pakistani leadership is
expected to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two
countries. During his 3-day visit, the Chinese Premier would address the
country’s parliament’s joint sitting on December 19, 2010.
Wen Jia Bao will meet President Asif Ali Zardari and
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani separately to discuss wide-ranging
topics of joint interest. Their talks will primarily focus on developing
mutually beneficial economic partnership between both the countries, and
moving forward to have greater understanding on the regional and internal
A 260-member business delegation, including private
entrepreneurs, is also visiting Pakistan along with China’s prime
minister. Earlier, an economic team from China arrived in Islamabad during
the first week of December and held fourteen meetings.
Pakistan and China have agreed to launch a new 5-year
development plan besides approving proposals for 36 projects, costing
$13.285 billion, in various fields to further boost economic cooperation
between the two friendly countries. The proposals for these projects were
agreed upon at the 14th session of Pakistan-China Joint Committee on
Economic, Trade, Scientific and Technical Cooperation (JEC), with Finance
Minister Dr. Hafeez Shaikh and China’s International Trade
Representative Gao Hucheng.
The projects agreed upon were related to development
of industry, water and energy, agriculture, fisheries and communications.
The JEC also decided to boost exports from Pakistan to China by providing
tariff relaxation through free trade agreement. In addition, the Chinese
would invest in various sectors of Pakistan’s economy, including
agriculture, electricity, mining and infrastructure.
During a meeting with Gao Hucheng, President Zardari
underlined the importance of establishing a better communication network
between Pakistan and China to boost mutual trade. Matters attached to
Pak-China joint cooperation in the areas of economy, trade and investment,
infrastructure development, banking operations, roads and communication
networks also came under discussion during the meeting.
President Zardari said that our Chinese brethren have
the expertise and we offer the opportunities, and there exists a win-win
situation for the two countries to strengthen the existing equation with
more investment and economic cooperation. He expressed the hope that
Pakistan-China Joint Investment Company (JIC), established to facilitate
investment, would provide an impetus to attract more investments in the
Meanwhile, it has been learnt that Chinese mobile
company – Zong – will invest $300 million in the country this year.
Zong has so far invested $1.66 billion in Pakistan and has generated over
1,700 direct and over 40,000 indirect jobs.
Pakistan and China enjoy a deep-rooted cordial
relationship, which is often termed as a major source of peace and
stability in South Asia. Sino-Pakistan friendship goes back to ancient
times. However, it has acquired new dimensions after the establishment of
diplomatic relations between the two nations 59 years ago; and since then
the friendship has been continuously growing.
The two countries maintain constant exchanges at
high-level and frequent people-to-people contacts. Taking the tradition of
his predecessors forward, Asif Ali Zardari has paid six official visits to
China, since assuming office in September 2008, to exchange views with the
Chinese leadership and learn from China’s experience in taking rapid
strides towards development and prosperity.
Pakistan-China relations have now acquired a new
vigour due to greater political understanding and ever-increasing economic
cooperation between the two countries. In addition to energy,
communication, hydropower and agriculture projects, China has also agreed
to assist Pakistan in the construction of Bhasha-Diamir multipurpose dam.
Both the countries are engaged in the joint production of Thunderstorm
fighter aircrafts and recently Pakistan has also acquired submarines from
Pakistan-China trade hit $6.8 billion in 2008.
Registering an increase of 30 per cent per year, it is likely to surge to
$18 billion in the next 4-5 years from the existing $7 billion.
Despite changes in the global scenario, China has
stood by Pakistan during all hardships; while Pakistan has also always
supported China on important issues, especially on human rights and
Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan and Tibet.
Pakistan extended assistance to the Chinese people to
fight and control Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) when the
country was struck by the deadly epidemic in April, 2003. On their part,
the Chinese leadership has never failed to appreciate Pakistan’s
steadfast support. The Chinese leaders do not feely shy in admitting that
their country’s rapid progress would not have been possible without
close interaction with the world, the West in particular, and the part
played by Pakistan in opening up the windows to the world for China.
Today, China has a robust economy. Launched in 1979
for developing key sectors of agriculture, industry, defence as well as
science and technology, the Four Modernisation Programme, has greatly
contributed to rapid progress, development and advancement in China. This
programme was followed by industrial reforms in 1985, aimed at modernising
China’s industrial sector and quadrupling industrial production by close
of the last millennium.
Consequently, in 2008 China’s GDP stood at $4.3
trillion and per capita income $3,263 against a GDP of $18 billion and per
capita income of $50 in 1949; while some 200 million people have come out
of the poverty trap during the last 30 years.
The Chinese society has now become more open and
dynamic. Presently, there are some 2,000 newspapers, over 9,000 magazines
and 287 TV channels in China. With 700 million mobile phones subscribers,
300 million internet users and 180 million bloggers, no doubt, the Chinese
lead the world today in texting, blogging and surfing the web. In the last
30 years, 1.39 million Chinese studied in 109 countries. In a span of just
one year – calendar year 2008, some 45 million Chinese travelled
overseas as tourists.
In the past 30 years, China’s trade has registered
more than a hundred fold rise, increasing from $20.6 billion to over $2.6
trillion. Thirty years ago, foreign direct investment in China was
virtually non-existent. In 2008, it grew to $92.4 billion, ranking China
at the first place among all the developing nations. China has remained
throughout conscious about the development of the third world countries as
well, and in the past 30 years it has invested over $150 billion in 170
countries and regions across the globe.
The governments and the people of both Pakistan and
China cherish their close bonds of friendship and wish these to strengthen
further in future, especially in trade, defence, economic cooperation and
Pakistan is confident that the recent visit of the
Chinese prime minister to Pakistan will enhance the existing
Pakistan-China bilateral relations in various fields.