China and Pakistan have always been those neighbours who’ve helped each other in times of need. China has offered assistance to Pakistan in various fields like military, economic relations to diplomatic support in various international forums.
From around 2007-08 American involvement in Pakistan had progressively declined and been replaced by China. China has emerged as a financial superpower with heavy pockets and China has been investing in many countries, the most notable being CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor). Under this, China will be investing eleven billion dollars in Pakistan and China will flourish its trade. The biggest project under CPEC is in Gwadar City. Gwadar bay expressway, Gwadar international airport (which shall be the biggest airport in Pakistan once complete) and the Development of Gwadar port are the most significant projects under CPEC. Gwadar, a little known city until now, has suddenly come under the limelight. A port is being developed in Gwadar with the aim to facilitate the economic and social growth of Pakistan, Balochistan to be particular, and to help both Nations to gain dominance in the Arabian sea and control the trade in the region.
China is also helping Pakistan fight terrorism and safeguard the nation’s sovereignty. A Chinese delegate in Pakistan said that 2019 is a year of Sino-Pak relationship. China imported many Pakistani films in the past year. The Chinese sports board provided training to Pakistan’s table tennis team and also hosted the Pakistani cricket team in China.
China has created over 1,800 training opportunities within Pakistan. The Chinese are helping Pakistan build over more than 50 schools, 30 hospitals and 50 vocational training institutes in Pakistan to strengthen the social relationship with Pakistan. In the next three years, China has planned to provide over 20,000 scholarships to the students in Pakistan. As of now, over 50,000 students from Pakistan are studying in China, out of which, 7,000 are on scholarship, over 58 universities in Pakistan have joined the CPEC consortium. China has also introduced a free trade policy for Pakistan under which the export of goods like leather, garments, and cotton will enter at zero-tariff in Chinese market. Not just this, but also a large number of prominent Chinese companies are opening up their branches in Pakistan, thanks to the Gwadar Port and the Gwadar Free Zone.
Over 2019, Ambassador Yao Jing said, “Over the year, we have deepened bilateral cooperation in various fields and connected the Belt and Road Initiative with the ‘Naya Pakistan’ vision. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has progressed smoothly. We focused on social-economic, industrial and agricultural cooperation.
“We have finalized 27 priority projects of social development under the CPEC, of which 17 will be launched in the first half of 2020.
The second phase of the Free Trade Agreement between China and Pakistan came into effect on January 1, 2020, with Pakistan’s exports such as leather, cotton and garment products benefiting from zero-tariff entry into China’s market.”
China and Pakistan are involved in many projects to improve their military and weapon systems which include the development of JF-17 Thunder fighter plane. K-8 Karakorum is an advanced aircraft and is based on China’s homemade Hongdu L-15 which is developed especially for Pakistan Air Force. Chinese and Pakistani armies also conduct timely joint training sessions in the region.
Whereas China is aiming to fast forward the BRI project in Islamabad and they’ve also sought help from neighboring countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia as it might benefit them too with trade. CPEC has attracted tremendous interest from Saudi Arabia for instance.
Omar Ayub Khan, the Federal Minister for Energy talking to Radio Pakistan, said China and Pakistan would work closely with each other in fields of energy and many various fields. He said that they’re planning 40 new projects in the oil & gas sector.
Seeing the various projects and policies between these two nations, it won’t be an understatement that both are going hand in hand towards better future relationships. This relation is highly beneficial for the development of trade and life of people of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China.