In April when President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan, China and Pakistan elevated the bilateral relations to “all-weather strategic cooperation partners.” China has established partnerships with a lot of countries in the world, but Pakistan is the only one that is called an “all-weather strategic cooperation partner.”
For countries with different social systems and ideologies that want to collaborate with each other, the China-Pakistan relationship has become a model to follow. This type of relationship is not based on common values and systems, but on same or similar strategic and security interests. Today common security concerns still exist, and some new concerns like global terrorism and maritime security have arisen for both sides in recent years.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the basis of China-Pakistan cooperation has expanded. The “One Belt, One Road” initiative and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has enlarged bilateral strategic and cooperative partnership to a more comprehensive framework.
Before, the basis of the all-weather partnership mainly included political, strategic and security cooperation, now the closer economic ties have become a part of this basis, which makes two countries form a “community of shared destiny.” The two sides not only have common economic interest and common security concerns, but also share the dream of national peace, stability, and prosperity. “Shared destiny” is the solid foundation for our cooperation in international affairs.
China-Pakistan international cooperation has some key features as follows: First, China and Pakistan respect principles, value friendship, and “share weal and woe.” When dealing with international affairs, both sides take the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence as the basic principle; when facing international affairs, both sides advocate justice and fairness, protect the common interests of developing countries, and have the courage to speak up.
In addition, China-Pakistan cooperation is always based on close communication and coordination, deep understanding of the other side’s situation and interest, and full consideration of the other side’s feeling. Pakistan always gives China full support on the Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, and South China Sea issues. China is also a strong supporter of the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national dignity of Pakistan.
In 1972, the People’s Republic of China used its veto power for the first time to support Pakistan at the UN Security Council by refusing to admit Bangladesh, the former East Pakistan, to the UN. After 1989, every time when China was blamed by the US and other Western countries at the UN Commission on Human Rights, Pakistan was always the first one to stand up and speak for China.
China and Pakistan conform to trends of the times, expand scope of cooperation, and jointly resolve challenges. After the Cold War, especially in the 21st century, the world has seen a trend toward peace, development, and cooperation.
Apart from traditional security issues, more and more non-traditional challenges arise. As a result, China-Pakistan cooperation has expanded from political and security fields to economy and trade, climate change, food and energy security. China takes the interests of Pakistan and other developing countries into careful consideration when it negotiates with Western countries.
China and Pakistan support each other in regional cooperation. Pakistan actively supports China further deepening cooperation with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. China supports Pakistan to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Pakistan is one of the founding members of the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and shows solid support to the project. Pakistani scholars and diplomats actively support China’s New Security Concept.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will help Pakistan to advance its relationship with neighboring countries and become the hub of regional economic integration. On Afghan issues, China values Pakistan’s unique role.
China and Pakistan can further strengthen bilateral policy coordination and strategic cooperation. They have a stake in each other’s success. As a stronger peer, China should pay more attention to Pakistan’s interest in international and regional affairs. As Pakistan makes progress in its economic development, China should support Pakistan becoming a member of APEC and RCEP.
However, people-to-people exchanges are the missing part in the foundation of China-Pakistan cooperation in international affairs. Our Pakistani friends enjoy a lot of advantages when contacting Islamic countries, so Pakistan could act as a bridge between China and Islamic countries for further cooperation and collaboration, especially in the process of building “One Belt, One Road” and realizing the Asian community of shared destiny.