December 3, 2018
The growing strategic partnership between China and Pakistan has been one of the defining stories of past few years, especially after the Pakistan-U.S. ‘marriage of convenience’ ended in an acrimonious divorce.
China has become the new all-weather ally of Islamabad, investing heavily in the country and offering aid to the Imran Khan led government at a time when it has been trying to revive the flailing economy.
Reaffirming his country’s commitment to support Pakistan, Chinese Consul General to Pakistan Long Dingbin said Beijing is investing in multiple sectors and launching business ventures, instead of providing loans, in order to “boost Pakistan's economy”.
In an interview to Geo TV, a few days after an attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, Dingbin said that during Prime Minister Imran Khan's recent visit to China, the two countries signed as many as 15 new agreements which will lead to increased cooperation in the business sector and will also improve their cultural ties.
“Instead of hard cash, China plans to eventually provide multiple forms of bailout packages [to Pakistan] in the shape of phenomenal investments in fresh projects,” he said, adding that the investments will help Pakistan “overcome its financial crunch”.
He further said the new ventures that were being launched would broaden the scope of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The Chinese consul general claimed that China would “never leave Pakistan in a lurch” and will provide “maximum resources” to ensure that it can strengthen its wavering economy.
In response to a question about Pakistan's crippling debts, Dingbin insisted that CPEC did not contribute to "Pakistan's debt burden". He said that only four of the 22 projects launched under CPEC provided concessional loans, while the rest were investment-based and would strengthen Pakistan's economy.
Early last month, PM Khan embarked on his maiden visit to China, during which he held talks with the top Chinese political leadership and business community. Following the visit, PM Khan said Pakistan has received a "big" package of financial assistance from China, stopping short of revealing the quantum of aid.
A week later, Finance Minister Asad Umar announced that Pakistan’s balance of payment crisis was effectively resolved. Of the “$12 billion financing gap, $6 billion have come from Saudi Arabia, and the rest has come from China,” he told the media.
In an interview to Tehran, Pakistan-based journalist and analyst Farrukh K Pitafi said Pakistan-China relationship “has and will go from strength to strength”, adding that Washington, which has been engaged in tiffs with both Beijing and Islamabad, was displaying a “characteristic lack of imagination”.
On November 23, security forces had averted a major terror attack on the Chinese consulate located in the upscale Clifton neighborhood of Karachi.
Following the gruesome attack, Chinese deputy chief of mission in Islamabad Lijian Zhao said the efforts of all those trying to “sabotage the friendship” between Pakistan and China will “go in vain”.
Meanwhile a contingent of People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) arrived in Islamabad on Sunday to participate in Pakistan-China joint international air exercise “Shaheen-VII”, which shows the growing military cooperation between the two countries.
The militaries of the two countries maintain high-level exchanges as well as defence and security cooperation. The strategic partnership has manifested itself in the form of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), infrastructure development and routine joint military exercises.