ISLAMABAD (TIP): Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 21 described Pakistan as China’s “dependable” friend and firmly backed its territorial integrity, as he announced long-term support for the cash-strapped country’s economic development.
Addressing a joint sitting of Pakistan’s parliament on the final day of his two-day maiden trip during which he oversaw signing of 51 agreements, Xi stressed that the bilateral ties are based on mutual trust and support.
Xi, also the general-secretary of ruling Communist party, said China and Pakistan will always move forward together and the Chinese people will always stand together with the Pakistani people.
“During my current visit, President Mamnoon Hussain, PM (Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz) Sharif and I jointly agreed to elevate China-Pakistan relations to an all-weather strategic partnership,” Xi said, a day after unveiling USD 46 billion ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The 3,000-km corridor linking China’s far-western region to Pakistan’s south-western Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is massive project of road, rail, energy schemes, pipelines and investment parks.
Xi lavished praise on Pakistan and said it stood with China from the earliest days of founding of the People’s Republic of China. He said Islamabad stood by Beijing at a time when China stood isolated on the world stage.
He said both countries have tremendous support to each other and stood by each other in times of need.
The two countries should support each other’s core interests, Xi said, noting that China firmly backs Pakistan’s territorial integrity.
“Pakistan is the first foreign country that I visit this year and (it is my) first visit to your country, but Pakistan is not at all unfamiliar to me,” said Xi, the first Chinese President to visit Pakistan in nine years.
He said he brought warm greetings and best wishes to the “brotherly people of Pakistan” on behalf of the 1.3 billion people of China.
“Pakistan and China’s struggles have brought their hearts and minds together,” he said.
He referred to the assistance offered by the two countries to one another in the events of natural disasters.
Xi also praised Pakistan’s anti-terror effort, saying that Islamabad has always stood at the frontlines in the fight against terrorism and has made huge sacrifices to that end.
He outlined the vision of Chinese development and said that China wants to go ahead by forging “win-win” cooperative deals with other countries, especially neighbours.
Xi said China will open up all sectors of its economy. He said South Asia has great potential and China was eager to have close cooperation with all countries of the region.
He mentioned his last year visit to three regional countries including India.
Xi mentioned his concept of “Roads and Belts” and said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will benefit all region of Pakistan and the region.
He said China was also working for another regional connectivity plan to link with India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Xi also said that China would work with Pakistan for reconciliation and peaceful transition in Afghanistan.
Earlier, Xi arrived at the Parliament amid tight security. He was welcomed by Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq and Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani.
Sadiq officially welcomed the Chinese president and his delegation for visiting Pakistan.
Sharif in his brief address at the end said that the two countries were committed to have closer cooperation in all fields.