|Pakistani Embassy, Beijing||Chinese Embassy, Islamabad|
|Ambassador Masood Khalid||Ambassador Sun Weidong|
China–Pakistan relations began in 1950 when Pakistan was among the first countries to enter into official diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (on Taiwan) and recognize the People's Republic of China (PRC) regime on mainland China. Since then, both countries have placed considerable importance on the maintenance of an extremely close and supportive special relationship and the two countries have regularly exchanged high-level visits resulting in a variety of agreements. The PRC has provided economic, military, and technical assistance to Pakistan, and each country considers the other a close strategic ally.
Bilateral relations have evolved from an initial Chinese policy of neutrality to a partnership with a smaller but militarily powerful Pakistan. Diplomatic relations were established in 1950, boundary issues resolved in 1963, military assistance began in 1966, a strategic alliance was formed in 1972, and economic co-operation began in 1979. China has become Pakistan’s largest supplier of arms and its third-largest trading partner. China has given Pakistan a loan of $60 million which was later made a grant after east Pakistan broke away. Recently, both nations have decided to cooperate in improving Pakistan's civil nuclear power sector.
Maintaining close relations with China is a central part of Pakistan's foreign policy. In 1986, President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq visited China to improve diplomatic relations, and Pakistan was one of only two countries, alongside Cuba, to offer crucial support to the PRC after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. China and Pakistan also share close military relations, with China supplying a range of modern armaments to the Pakistani defence forces. China supports Pakistan's stance on Kashmir, while Pakistan supports China on the issues of Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan. Military cooperation has deepened, with joint projects producing armaments ranging from fighter jets to guided missile frigates.
Chinese cooperation with Pakistan has reached economic high points, with substantial Chinese investment in Pakistani infrastructural expansion including the Pakistani deep-water port at Gwadar. Both countries have an ongoing free trade agreement.
According to China's custom statistics the bilateral trade volume for the calendar year 2017 crossed the US$ 20 billion mark for the first time. In 2017 China's exports to Pakistan grew by 5.9% to reach US$ 18.25 billion whereas Pakistan's exports to China fell by 4.1% to US$ 1.83 billion.
Pakistan has served as China's main bridge to the Islamic world, and also played an important role in bridging the communication gap between the PRC and the West by facilitating U.S. President Richard Nixon's historic 1972 visit to China. The relations between Pakistan and China have been described by Pakistan's ambassador to China as higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel, dearer than eyesight, sweeter than honey, and so on. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Pakistan is China's biggest arms buyer, counting for nearly 47% of Chinese arms exports. According to a 2014 BBC World Service Poll, 75% of Pakistanis view China's influence positively with only 15% expressing a negative view. In the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese people hold the third most positive opinions of Pakistan's influence in the world, behind Indonesia and Pakistan itself.
Pakistan has a long and strong relationship with China. The long-standing ties between the two countries have been mutually beneficial. A close identity of views and mutual interests remain the centre-point of bilateral ties. Since the 1962 Sino-Indian War, Pakistan has supported China on most issues of importance to the latter, especially those related to the question of China's sovereignty like Taiwan, Xinjiang, and Tibet and other sensitive issues such as human rights.
The Chinese leadership has acknowledged Pakistan's steadfast support on key issues. Pakistan helped China in reestablishing formal ties with the West, where they helped make possible the 1972 Nixon visit to China. Pakistan has collaborated with China in extensive military and economic projects, seeing China as a counterweight to India and the United States. Pakistan has also served as a conduit for China's influence in the Muslim world.
China also has a consistent record of supporting Pakistan in regional issues. Pakistan's military depends heavily on Chinese armaments, and joint projects of both economic and militaristic importance are ongoing. China has supplied equipment to support Pakistan's nuclear program.
Relations prior to the founding of the modern states of Pakistan and the PRC
Buddhist monks from the area of what is now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan were involved in the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism to Han dynasty China. The Han dynasty's Protectorate of the Western Regions bordered the Kushan Empire. Faxian traveled in what is now modern day Pakistan.
During World War II, the Hui Muslim Imam Da Pusheng 达浦生 toured the Middle East and South Asia to confront Japanese propagandists in Muslim countries and denounce their invasion to the Islamic world. Misinformation on the war was spread in the Islamic Middle Eastern nations by Japanese agents. In response, in the World Islamic Congress in Hejaz, Imam Du openly confronted fake Muslim Japanese agents and exposed them as non-Muslims. Japan's history of imperialism was explained by Du to his fellow Muslims. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the future founder of Pakistan, met with Imam Du. The Chinese Muslim's anti-Japanese war effort received a pledge of support from Jinnah. The Hindu leaders Tagore and Gandhi and Muslim Jinnah both discussed the war with the Chinese Muslim delegation under Ma Fuliang while in Turkey President İsmet İnönü also met the delegation. Gandhi and Jinnah met with the Hui Ma Fuliang and his delegation as they denounced Japan.
Diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China were established on 21 May 1951, shortly after the Republic Of China lost power in the Mainland in 1949. While initially ambivalent towards the idea of a Communist country on its borders, Pakistan hoped that China would serve as a counterweight to Indian influence. India had recognized China a year before, and Indian Prime Minister Nehru also hoped for closer relations with the Chinese. In 1956, Pakistani Prime Minister Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai signing the Treaty of Friendship Between China and Pakistan, marking closer bilateral ties.
With escalating border tensions leading to the 1962 Sino-Indian war, China and Pakistan aligned with each other in a joint effort to counter India and the Soviet Union as both have border disputes with India. One year after China's border war with India, Pakistan ceded the Trans-Karakoram Tract to China to end border disputes and improve diplomatic relations.
Since then, an informal alliance that initially consisted of joint Indian opposition has grown into a lasting relationship that has benefited both nations on the diplomatic, economic and military frontiers. Along with diplomatic support, Pakistan served as a conduit for China to open up to the West. China has in turn provided extensive economic aid and political support to Pakistan.
Since the two sides established their "all-weather diplomatic relations", there have been frequent exchanges between the two countries' leadership and peoples. For example, former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai received warm welcomes in all of his four visits to Pakistan. When Zhou died in 1976, then Pakistani's Ambassador to China rushed to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs at 8 in the morning without appointment. Upon arriving at the ministry, the ambassador cried due to his grief in front of Chinese diplomats. In 2004, a road in Pakistani capital Islamabad leading to the Diplomatic Enclave was named "Zhou Enlai Road". It is the first road in Pakistan that is named after foreign leaders. On 27 May 1976, then Chinese leader Mao Zedong, aged 83, received his last foreign guest Pakistani president Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto despite his illness.
On 22 May 2013, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's airplane was escorted by six JF-17 Thunder jets, jointly developed by the two countries, as it entered Pakistani airspace. The premier was also received by both Pakistani president and prime minister upon his arrival at the airport. On 20 April 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan as his first foreign visit of the year, also the first by a Chinese president in 9 years. Before his arrival, he published an article praising the friendship on Pakistani newspapers like Daily Jang. The Chinese president compared visiting Pakistan with visiting his brother's home. Like previous visit by Premier Li, the airplane was escorted by 8 JF-17 Thunder jets. Xi was given a grand welcome upon his arrival at Noor Khan airbase, a 21-gun salute and guard of honour was presented to him.
When I was young, I heard many touching stories about Pakistan and the friendship between our two countries. To name just a few, I learned that the Pakistani people were working hard to build their beautiful country, and that Pakistan opened an air corridor for China to reach out to the world and supported China in restoring its lawful seat in the United Nations. The stories have left me with a deep impression. I look forward to my upcoming state visit to Pakistan.
Pakistan's military initially depended almost entirely on American armaments and aid, which was increased during the covert U.S. support of Islamic militants in the Soviet war in Afghanistan. America under US President Richard Nixon supported Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. However, the period following the Soviet withdrawal and the dissolution of the Soviet Union led indirectly to the increasing realignment of America with the previously pro-Soviet India. The Pressler Amendment in 1990 suspended all American military assistance and any new economic aid amidst concerns that Pakistan was attempting to develop a nuclear weapon. Given the support that Pakistan had given them during the War in Afghanistan, many Pakistanis saw this as a betrayal that sold out Pakistani interests in favor of India. This belief was further strengthened as India had developed a nuclear weapon without significant American opposition, and Pakistan felt obligated to do the same. Consequently, the primarily geopolitical alliance between Pakistan and China has since 1990 branched out into military and economic cooperation, due to Pakistan's belief that America's influence and support in the region should be counterbalanced by the Chinese.
With the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, there is a general sentiment in Pakistan to adopt a foreign policy which favors China over the United States. Washington has been accused deserting Pakistan in favor of a policy that favors stronger relations with India, while Pakistan sees China as a more reliable ally over the long term.
Since September 11 attacks, Pakistan has increased the scope of Chinese influence and support by agreeing to a number of military projects, combined with extensive economic support and investment from the Chinese.
There are strong military ties between China and Pakistan. This alliance between two neighbouring Asian nations is significant geo-politically. The strong military ties primarily aim to counter regional Indian and American influence, and was also to repel Soviet influence in the area. In recent years this relationship has strengthened through ongoing military projects and agreements between Pakistan and China.
Since 1962, China has been a steady source of military equipment to the Pakistani Army, helping establish ammunition factories, providing technological assistance and modernizing existing facilities.
Most recently, the Chinese Chengdu J-10B fighter was compared to its closest American counterpart, the Lockheed Martin F-16C Block 52/60, the most advanced F-16, for orders on either aircraft for the Pakistan Air Force, resulting in the wins of the Chinese Chengdu J-10B. Accordingly, the Chengdu J-10B had more advanced technology such as its radar and OLS targeting system, and its new generation stealthy features, such as its DSI intake gave it an edge over the Lockheed Martin F-16.
China and Pakistan are involved in several projects to enhance military and weaponry systems, which include the joint development of the JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, K-8 Karakorum advance training aircraft, a tailor made training aircraft for the Pakistan Air Force based on the Chinese domestic Hongdu L-15, space technology, AWACS systems, Al-Khalid tanks, which China granted license production and tailor made modifications based on the initial Chinese Type 90 and/or MBT-2000. The Chinese has designed tailor made advanced weapons for Pakistan, making it a strong military power in the Asian region. The armies have a schedule for organising joint military exercises.
China is the largest investor in Pakistan's Gwadar Deep Sea Port, which is strategically located at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz. It is viewed warily by both America and India as a possible launchpad for the Chinese Navy, giving them the ability to launch submarines and warships in the Indian Ocean. China has recently pledged to invest nearly $43 billion US dollars.
China’s leadership appreciated Pakistan’s fight against terrorism with a special mention of eliminating Al Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), added the ISPR statement. In 2008, Pakistan had purchased military equipment from China for an improved quality of defence arsenal and force to fight the constant attack from foreign militants. This relationship still continues nine years later when Pakistan Army imported Chinese-built Low to Medium Altitude Air Defence System (LOMADS) LY-80 for its air defence system.
In the past, China has played a major role in the development of Pakistan's nuclear infrastructure, especially when increasingly stringent export controls in Western countries made it difficult for Pakistan to acquire plutonium and uranium enriching equipment from elsewhere such as the Chinese help in building the Khushab reactor, which plays a key role in Pakistan's production of plutonium. A subsidiary of the China National Nuclear Corporation contributed in Pakistan's efforts to expand its uranium enrichment capabilities by providing 5,000 custom made ring magnets, which are a key component of the bearings that facilitate the high-speed rotation of centrifuges. China has also provided technical and material support in the completion of the Chashma Nuclear Power Complex and plutonium reprocessing facility, which was built in the mid-1990s. China has become increasing concerned about al-Qaeda linked terrorism originating in Pakistan and sought help to set up military bases on Pakistani soil to deal with the problem.
On January 26, 2015, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a conclusion of a two-day visit of Raheel Sharif to Beijing called Pakistan China's 'irreplaceable, all-weather friend'. Sharif also met Yu Zhengsheng, Meng Jianzhu and Xu Qiliang. On April 19, 2015, China concluded sale of eight conventional submarines worth $5bn, the biggest arms sale by China in its history. The vessels are supplied by the China Shipbuilding Trading Company, and financed to Pakistan at a low interest rate.
China, Pakistan and Afghanistan have coordinated to increase regional stability. Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that China intends to use Xinjiang as a base of economic development for the region, increasing security and facilitating trade.
Recently though, economic trade between Pakistan and China is increasing, and a free trade agreement has been signed. Military and technological transactions continue to dominate the economic relationship between the two nations, and China has pledged to increase their investment in Pakistan's economy and infrastructure.
On 26 April, China Mobile announced $1 billion of investment in Pakistan in telecommunication infrastructure and training of its officials within a period of three years. The announcement came a day after China Mobile subsidy Zong emerged as the highest bidder in the 3G auction, claiming a 10 MHz 3G band licence, qualifying for the 4G licence.
The biggest development off late to open up the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has changed the situation completely as China has carved an enormous plan for economic growth and development in Pakistan as pointed out below in the next section.
China–Pakistan Economic Corridor
The CPEC will connect Pakistan with China and the Central Asian countries with highway connecting Kashgar to Khunjerab and Gwadar. Gwadar port in southern Pakistan will serve as the trade nerve center for China, as most of its trade especially that of oil will be done through the port, which is operated by the China Overseas Port Holding Company, a state-owned Chinese company. Currently, sixty percent of China’s oil must be transported by ship from the Persian Gulf to the only commercial port in China, Shanghai, a distance of more than 16,000 kilometres. The journey takes two to three months, during which time the ships are vulnerable to pirates, bad weather, political rivals and other risks. Using Gwadar port instead would reduce the distance and possibly the cost.
The plan seeks to build on a market presence already established by Chinese enterprises, Haier in household appliances, ChinaMobile and Huawei in telecommunications and China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) in mining and minerals. In other cases, such as textiles and garments, cement and building materials, fertiliser and agricultural technologies (among others) it calls for building the infrastructure and a supporting policy environment to facilitate fresh entry. According to the plan, a key element in this is the creation of industrial parks, or special economic zones, would be done with the provision of water, perfect infrastructure, sufficient supply of energy and the capacity of self-service power.
But the main thrust of the plan actually lies in agriculture, contrary to the image of CPEC as a massive industrial and transport undertaking, involving power plants and highways. The plan acquires its greatest specificity, and lays out the largest number of projects and plans for their facilitation, in agriculture. For agriculture, the plan outlines an engagement that runs from one end of the supply chain all the way to the other. From provision of seeds and other inputs, like fertiliser, credit and pesticides, Chinese enterprises will also operate their own farms, processing facilities for fruits and vegetables and grain. Logistics companies will operate a large storage and transportation system for agrarian produce, as stated by the plan in DAWN News.
The other common investment is expected in information and technology, a full system of monitoring and surveillance will be built in cities from Peshawar to Karachi, with 24 hour video recordings on roads and busy marketplaces for law and order. A national fibreoptic backbone will be built for the country not only for internet traffic, but also terrestrial distribution of broadcast TV, which will cooperate with Chinese media in the “dissemination of Chinese cultures”.
The support that China and Pakistan give each other is considered significant in global diplomacy, and has been compared to Israel – United States relations. According to a Pew survey of Pakistani public opinion in 2010, 84 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of China and 16 percent had a favourable view of the United States. Similarly, the Chinese state-run media has portrayed Pakistan in a favorable light in regional issues. In 2013, this figure increased to 90% of Pakistanis having a favorable view of China.
Pakistan and China have long praised the close ties the two countries have with each other. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf referred to China as Pakistan's "time-tested and all-weather friend," while in return Chinese president Hu Jintao has referred to Pakistan as "a good friend and partner". Some observers have noted these statements as occurring after Pakistani relations with the United States or India have become strained, such as after Osama Bin Laden was killed by American forces without Pakistan's prior permission.
In July 2013, Pew Research Center as part of their Global Attitudes Project declared Pakistan to have the most positive view of China in the world. According to the research, 81% of Pakistanis responded favourably to China. On the other hand, only 11% of Pakistanis had a favorable view of the United States, the lowest in the world.
The author of the book The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia's New Geopolitics concludes the book by connecting the bilateral relationship to broader themes in Chinese foreign policy. According to the author, on the one hand, Pakistan is both a Chinese pawn (against India) and platform for power projection, but there are limits to this approach. For instance, as Small notes, 'Beijing's counterterrorism strategy has been essentially parasitic on the United States being a more important target for transnational militant groups than China'. It's unclear how long that can last.'
Andrew Small, the author of The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia's New Geopolitics
The ETIM is an Afghanistan-based terrorist organization and has also attacked Pakistan on several occasions. There is a deep sense in both the security officials in Pakistan and China that India over the years have used such terrorist networks to disrupt Chinese development efforts in the region. Both China and Pakistan believe that India could also use such terrorist networks to sabotage the CPEC project between China and Pakistan. As these militants are labeled as terrorists from the Chinese province of Xinjiang, Pakistan and China strongly believe that India's intelligence services are behind such notorious terrorist organizations based in Afghanistan.
- 1950 – Pakistan becomes the third non-communist country, and first Muslim one, to recognize the People's Republic of China.
- 1951 – Beijing and Karachi establish diplomatic relations.
- 1956 – Pakistani Prime Minister Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai signing the Treaty of Friendship Between China and Pakistan in Beijing.
- 1963 – Pakistan cedes the Trans-Karakoram Tract to China, ending border disputes.
- 1970 – Pakistan helps the U.S. arrange the 1972 Nixon visit to China.
- 1978 – The Karakoram Highway linking the mountainous Northern Pakistan with Western China officially opens.
- 1980s – China and the U.S. provide support through Pakistan to the Afghan guerillas fighting Soviet forces.
- 1986 – China and Pakistan reach a comprehensive nuclear co-operation agreement.
- 1996 – Chinese President Jiang Zemin pays a state visit to Pakistan.
- 1999 – A 300-megawatt nuclear power plant, built with Chinese help in Punjab province, is completed.
- 2001 – A joint-ventured Chinese-Pakistani tank, the MBT-2000 (Al-Khalid) MBT is completed.
- 2002 – The building of the Gwadar deep sea port begins, with China as the primary investor.
- 2003 – Pakistan and China signed a $110 million contract for the construction of a housing project on Multan Road in Lahore
- 2007 – The Sino-Pakistani joint-ventured multirole fighter aircraft – the JF-17 Thunder (FC-1 Fierce Dragon) is formally rolled out.
- 2008 – Pakistan welcomes the Chinese Olympic Torch in an Islamabad sports stadium, under heavy guard amidst security concerns.
- 2008 – China and Pakistan sign a free trade agreement.
- 2008 – Pakistan and China to build a railway through the Karakoram Highway, in order to link China's rail network to Gwadar Port.
- 2008 – The F-22P frigate, comes into service with the Pakistani Navy.
- 2009 – The ISI arrest several suspected Uyghur terrorists seeking refuge in Pakistan.
- 2010 – Pakistan and China conduct a joint anti-terrorism drill.
- 2010 – China donates $260 million in dollars to flood-struck Pakistan and sends 4 military rescue helicopters to assist in rescue operations.
- 2010 – Wen Jiabao visits Pakistan. More than 30 billion dollars worth of deals were signed.
- 2011 – Pakistan is expected to buy air-to-air SD 10 missiles from China for its 250 JF 17 thunder fighter fleet
- 2013 – Management of Gwadar port is handed over to state-run Chinese Overseas Port Holdings after previously being managed by Singapore’s PSA International, and it becomes a matter of great concern for India.
- 2013 – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits Pakistan. Trade between China and Pakistan hit a 12-month figure of $12 billion for the first time in 2012.
- 2013 – On 5 July 2013, Pakistan and China approved the Pak-China Economic corridor which will link Pakistan’s Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea and Kashghar in Xinjiang in northwest China. The $18 billion project will also includes the construction of a 200km-long tunnel.
- 2013 – On 24 December 2013, China announced a commitment $6.5 billion to finance the construction of a major nuclear power project in Karachi, the project which will have two reactors with a capacity of 1,100 megawatts each.
- 2014 – Chinese Premier announced investment of $31.5 billion in Pakistan mainly in countries energy, infrastructure and port expansion for Gwadar. According to The Express Tribune initially projects worth $15–20 billion will be started which include Lahore-Karachi motorway, Gwadar Port expansion and energy sector projects will be launched in Gadani and six coal projects near Thar coalfield. The newspaper further claimed that the government has also handed over to Pakistan Army the task of providing fool-proof security to Chinese officials in Balochistan, Pakistan in a bid to address Beijing’s concerns and execute the investment plan in the province, which will get 38% of the funds.
- 2014 – On 22 May 2014, The governments of Pakistan and China on Thursday signed an agreement to start a metro train project in Lahore, Express News reported. The 27.1 kilometres long track – named Orange Line – will be built at the cost of $1.27 billion.
- 2014 – On 8 November 2014, Pakistan and China signed 19 agreements particularly relating to China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, China pledged a total investment worth of $42 billion. While Pakistan pledged to help China in its fight concerning the Xinjiang conflict.
- 2015 – On 20 April 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping, accompanied by the First Lady and a delegation of high-level officials and businessmen, visits Pakistan. It is the first visit to Pakistan by a Chinese president after a gap of 9 years and the first foreign trip of Xi in 2015. 51 Memorandums of Understanding are signed, including the plan of "Pakistan China Economic Corridor".
- 2015 – Pakistan began circulating the Rs. 20 coin with the Pakistan and China flags to commemorate the countries' lasting friendship.
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- CHRONOLOGY-Main events in Chinese-Pakistani relations
This is not a map of Pakistan