China Places a ‘High Premium’ On Its Relations With Pakistan, Says Xi
Chinese President Xi Jinping was effusive in his praise of the iron friendship between his country and Pakistan, telling visiting Pakistan Army Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa that China always places a high premium on China-Pakistan relations"
Gen. Bajwa is the most senior Pakistani official to visit its main strategic ally, China since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan took office in August. Last week, Khan said Pakistan's friendship with China is a cornerstone of his foreign policy.
Khan also reiterated his government's commitment to implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Beijing later announced that both Pakistan and China agreed to extend CPEC towards the west of Pakistan to enable more people to benefit from it.
Gen. Bajwa was invited by Xi to Beijing to discuss the regional security environment; the challenges facing both countries that have been fast friends and military allies since the 1950s and the way forward amidst geopolitical tensions continuing to wrack the Indian sub-continent and the Middle East.
Xi emphasized to Gen. Bajwa that Pakistan is China's time-tested "iron friend." He also appreciates that the Pakistan Army, which Gen. Bajwa leads as COAS, plays a pivotal role in building and maintaining this lasting relationship.
With a strength of 7500,000 active troops, the Pakistan Army is the largest land force in the Muslim world.
Xi also said he p professionalism of the Pakistan Armed Forces and acknowledges its role in maintaining regional peace and stability. He promised that China will keep supporting Pakistan as a strategic partner.
Xi noted that those who oppose the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC, which is the cornerstone of BRIC, shall never succeed. Xi pointed out that both BRIC and CPEC are initiatives of peace and development not only for China but for the region and beyond.
For his part, Gen. Bajwa thanked Xi for his invitation. He also thanked Xi for acknowledging the professionalism and contributions of the Pakistan Army towards regional peace and stability. Gen. Bajwa said Pakistan understands the importance of peace and has sacrificed much towards achieving it.
He said BRI with CPEC is destined to succeed despite all odds. He vowed that the Pakistan Army will ensure the security of CPEC "at all costs."
While both Pakistan and China work for peace, both need to stay strong to thwart the designs of all inimical forces challenging its resolve. Gen. Bajwa said Pakistan greatly values Chinese support in this regard.