China on Tuesday said Pakistan will be a “priority” in its neighbourhood diplomacy as the two countries are all-weather strategic partners and lend firm support to each other’s core interests.
China and Pakistan held their ‘8th Round of Strategic Dialogue’ in Islamabad on Monday, co-chaired by Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou and Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told media in Beijing.
During their talks, Mr Kong said “China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperation partners,” Mr Lu quoted him as saying. “We have been according each other firm support on issues of core interests. China always regards Pakistan as our priority in the neighbourhood diplomacy,” Mr Kong said.
“China’s development first and foremost should benefit our good neighbours, sharing will and wall, especially Pakistan. Going forward we will maintain this momentum, further advance China-Pakistan relations and forge a closely-knit community of shared future,” he said.
The two sides spoke highly of all-weather strategic partnership cooperation and will further implement the consensus reached between the two sides, Mr Lu said.
Both the countries will also move forward on the CPEC, (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) and all round cooperation and build community of shared future, he said, adding that the two sides also exchanged views on issues of mutual interest.
For her part, Tehmina Janjua said strategic dialogue is an important channel for stronger cooperation and would like to give greater play for it and seek greater cooperation benefits, Mr Lu said.
In Islamabad the Foreign Office said on Monday that Ms Janjua and Mr Kong also exchanged views on issues including the situation in Afghanistan, the new US policy in South Asia and matters relating to the Korean Peninsula.
Both sides held comprehensive discussions on the entire spectrum of bilateral ties. These included: the Belt and Road Initiative and specifically, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor; bilateral trade; defence; counter-terrorism; culture and people-to-people exchanges, it said.
According to officials, in Pakistan alone, China is reported to have committed to invest $50 billion and some estimates even put the amount to more than $60 billion in the ambitious CPEC project, connecting China’s Xinjiang province with Balochistan’s Gwadar port. India has protested to China over CPEC as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). In May, India even boycotted a high-profile Belt and Road Forum organised by Beijing.