China on Tuesday said Pakistan would be a “priority” in its neighbourhood diplomacy as the two countries were all-weather strategic partners and lend firm support to each other’s core interests.
China and Pakistan held their ‘8th Round of Strategic Dialogue’ at Islamabad on Monday, which was co-chaired by Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou and Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua.
“We have been according each other firm support on issues of core interests. China always regards Pakistan as our priority in the neighbourhood diplomacy,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang quoted Kong as saying. “China’s development first and foremost should benefit our good neighbours, sharing will and wall, specially Pakistan. Going forward we will maintain this momentum, further advance China-Pakistan relations and forge a closely-knit community of shared future,” Kong said at the meeting.
The two sides spoke highly of all-weather strategic partnership cooperation and would further implement the consensus reached between the two sides, Kang said. Both the countries also discussed issues regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and promised all-round cooperation, he said, adding that the two sides also exchanged views on issues of mutual interest. For her part, Tehmina said strategic dialogue was an important channel for stronger cooperation and would like to give greater play for it and seek greater cooperation benefits, Lu said.
In Islamabad, the Foreign Office said on Monday that Janjua and 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 traverses through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and boycotted the Belt and Road Forum organised by Beijing in May.