- The CPEC is a $60 billion corridor being laid through PoK
- Chinese foreign minister said China stood ready to work with Pakistan
- China always count on Pakistan as its most reliable partner
Islamabad: A day after India criticised the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the foreign ministers of Pakistan and China on Saturday expressed their firm commitment to continue their cooperation on the multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects.
This came at the 4th edition of the Pakistan-China Strategic Dialogue in Islamabad co-chaired by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang here.
“Pakistan and China have reiterated their abiding commitment to the high-quality development of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project,” state-run Radio Pakistan reported.
Earlier, speaking at a press conference after the SCO Foreign Ministers' meeting in Goa, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said: "On the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, I think it was made very clear, not once but twice in the SCO meeting, that connectivity is good for progress, but connectivity cannot violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Later, Bilawal addressing a joint press conference with Qin said this year marked the completion of a decade of CPEC, which has accelerated socio-economic development, job creation, and improvement of people's livelihoods in Pakistan.
The CPEC Corridor is a USD 60 billion corridor being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) with China's assistance.
India is opposed to the CPEC as it passes through the PoK, giving China access to the Arabian Sea through the Gwadar port in Pakistan's Balochistan province.
“This corridor project remains a win-win economic initiative opened to all investors around the world,” Bilawal said, adding that Pakistan reiterated its “abiding commitment to its [CPEC's] high-quality development”.
“CPEC remains a shining example of the Belt and Road Cooperation, which is accelerated socio-economic development, job creation and improvement of the people's livelihoods in Pakistan,” he said.
Bilawal also said Pakistan was profoundly grateful to China for its generous and timely assistance as “we continue to grapple with the headwinds in the global economy”.
He said Pakistan and China always supported each other on issues of core national interests in both bilateral engagements and multilateral forums. “We appreciate China's steadfast support on all our issues including its principled position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.”
“We deeply appreciate China's firm support for Pakistan's territorial integrity, sovereignty and national development as well as China's principled and just stance on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.”
India has previously criticised statements by Pakistani and Chinese leaders on the Kashmir issue, saying that New Delhi rejected their unwarranted references to the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
"We have consistently rejected such statements and all parties concerned are well aware of our clear position on these matters. The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Ladakh are and always will be integral and inalienable parts of India. No other country has locus standi to comment on the same," a Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson had said earlier in response to comments by China and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.
The Chinese foreign minister said China stood ready to work with Pakistan to promote the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), accelerate the CPEC construction, deepen cooperation in fields such as industry, agriculture, information technology, and disaster prevention and mitigation, and help Pakistan restore its economy and improve people's livelihood.
At the press conference, Bilawal said Pakistan and China have stood with each other for decades and will continue to do so in the decades to come. He said Pakistan will continue to firmly support China on all core issues of its national interests.
He reiterated Pakistan's firm support for China “on all its core issues, including One-China policy, Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and the South China Sea”.
Bilawal said the partnership between the two countries has grown over the years and enjoys consensus across generations and political divides.
“We had an in-depth exchange of views on the entire spectrum of bilateral cooperation. We agreed to the significance of this partnership for the mutual benefit of our two nations in the face of new developments," he said.
The minister said Pakistan-China friendship is irreversible and the mutual warmth and trust between the peoples of the two countries is a shining example of multi-cultural cooperation.
“China can always count on Pakistan as its most reliable partner and trusted friend. Friendship with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy. The centrality and criticality of Pakistan's all-weather partnership with China cannot be overstated,” Bilawal said.
He also said that Pakistan was against bloc politics or greater power competition of any kind and looked forward to working together with all countries to address common challenges of development and connectivity.