The year 2016 marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan. Since then, thanks to the commitment of successive Chinese and Pakistani leaders and the concerted efforts of our two peoples, we have forged all-weather friendship and pursued all-round cooperation.
Over the past decades, China and Pakistan have become brothers and shared weal and woe with one another. Through the efforts of several generations of China and Pakistan, our strategic cooperative partnership has transcended the changing times and has become stronger than ever. On the basis of mutual trust, mutual support and equality, our relationship has become more action- and people-oriented each passing year.
We will never forget that Pakistan was one of the first nations to recognize the People's Republic of China and the first Islamic country to enter into diplomatic relations with the nation. In critical moments, for example, when China endeavored to break the blockade and resume its lawful seat at the United Nations and when it explored ways to carry out reforms and opening-up, Pakistan always came forward with selfless and invaluable assistance.
Pakistan has always extended a helping hand. In 2008, when a devastating earthquake struck Wenchuan in southwest China's Sichuan Province, Pakistan responded immediately, sending transport aircraft to carry its entire reserve of tents to China, which were in urgent need at that particular time. The Pakistani medical team on board had to remove all the seats to make room for the tents and sat on the floor all the way to China.
Similarly, whenever Pakistan is in need, China has come to its aid. China firmly supports Pakistan's efforts to uphold sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. When Pakistan was hit by severe flooding in 2010, China provided immediate relief assistance via air and land routes. An enormous medical team was dispatched and a large convoy of vehicles and helicopters was sent to carry out rescue operations, the first time such an operation was undertaken in China's history of rescue assistance.
Following the terrorist attack in Pakistan's northwest city of Peshawar which killed 132 children and nine adults at the end of 2014, China invited injured students to spend time in China recuperating, to offer relief to the traumatized victims.
Today, China and Pakistan are close partners pursuing mutual cooperation on the basis of our strong political relationship and solid public support. Bilateral trade reached $18.9 billion last year, an annual increase of 18.2 percent. China has become Pakistan's largest trading partner and investor, while Pakistan is China's largest investment destination in South Asia. Our two peoples have benefited from friendly cooperation.
Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a successful state visit to Pakistan, embarking on a new chapter of history of bilateral relations. Both sides agreed to upgrade the relationship to an all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and to continue promoting the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
CPEC is a key pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi. It has become the framework for comprehensive and substantive cooperation between China and Pakistan. CPEC has won across-the-board support from all walks of life in the two nations. The project will provide new opportunities, new visions and fresh impetus to bilateral relations. CPEC has gradually entered the stage of full implementation. Both sides have agreed on the "1+4" pattern of economic cooperation, with CPEC playing the central role and Gwadar Port, energy, transport infrastructure and industrial cooperation as the four major areas.
Currently, eight power projects, such as Port Qasim and the Sahiwal Coal Power Project, are under construction, while the Karakorum Highway Phase II (Thakot to Havelian section) and Karachi-Lahore Motorway (Multan to Sukkur section) were recently inaugurated.
Construction of the Gwadar Eastbay Expressway and Gwadar International Airport is under way, while the upgrade of Gwadar Port will be completed soon. Both sides are now in close consultation on industrial cooperation. This progress will not only boost the economic growth of China and Pakistan, but also promote the livelihoods of millions of people in the region.
Looking to the future, China and Pakistan wish to fulfill our dreams together. Though the two countries have their own national development goals, both shoulder the historical mission of achieving national renewal, realizing the great dream of building a prosperous country and delivering better lives for their peoples. On the auspicious occasion of the 65th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties, both sides should take this opportunity to carry the relationship even further forward.
We should take advantage of geographic proximity and economic complementarity to share opportunities, meet challenges, pursue common development and substantiate the China-Pakistan community.
This will enable us to create greater benefits for our peoples and lead the way in building a community of shared future in Asia. We should enhance cooperation on regional and international affairs, so as to safeguard the interests and rights of developing nations and contribute to the stability and prosperity of our region and the world at large.
The author is Chinese ambassador to Pakistan
Copyedited by Dominic James Madar
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