In a joint statement issued Sunday after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first bilateral visit to China, Beijing said that it “appreciates Pakistan’s quest for peace” with India and supported the settlement of “outstanding disputes between the two countries”.
The statement issued in Beijing after Khan’s talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, said: “China appreciates Pakistan’s quest for peace through dialogue, cooperation and negotiation, on the basis of mutual respect and equality, and supports Pakistan’s efforts for improvement of Pakistan-India relations and for settlement of outstanding disputes between the two countries.”
After Khan met the Chinese leadership for the first time, the joint statement also expressed support for Pakistan’s engagement with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), while Beijing continues to block India’s bid in becoming a member of the NSG — the 48-member elite club, which controls global nuclear trade.
Stating that China appreciated steps taken by Pakistan in strengthening the global non-proliferation regime, the joint statement said: “In this context, China supports Pakistan’s engagement with the Nuclear Suppliers Group and welcomes its adherence of NSG Guidelines.”
The joint statement said that it was important to resolve all outstanding disputes in the region through dialogue. Without naming India, the statement said that countries should refrain from developing relations targeting any third country, while Islamabad called for a greater role for Beijing at SAARC.
“Both sides believe that a peaceful, stable, cooperative and prosperous South Asia is in the common interest of all parties. Both sides emphasized the importance of the pursuit of dialogue and resolution of all outstanding disputes to promote regional cooperation and advance the goals of lasting peace, stability and shared prosperity,” the statement said.
China also lauded Pakistan’s commitment and efforts to counter terrorism and terror financing and urged the international community to look at Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts in an objective and fair manner.
While China has consistently blocked efforts to designate Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar as an international terrorist at the United Nations Security Council, it had played along last year to grey-list Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force.
India had always conveyed its deep disappointment with Chinese interlocutors about its support to Pakistan on counter-terrorism and had pointed out the lack of action. The Chinese side has asked for “more information” and “evidence”, Indian government sources have said.
China, which wants Pakistan to crack down on Uygur Islamic militants crossing in and out of the volatile Muslim-majority Xinjiang province bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, also got a commitment from Pakistan.
“The Pakistani side reaffirmed its support to the Chinese side in safeguarding its sovereignty and security, and combating separatism, terrorism and extremism including East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM),” the statement said.
China blames the separatist ETIM, an al-Qaeda linked group, for the violent attacks in Xinjiang and elsewhere in the country.
The statement also made a reference to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor over which Imran Khan had criticised former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for the lack of transparency in the project. Khan, after taking over as PM, had said that the CPEC projects would be reviewed. In the joint statement, however, both countries expressed their support for the project.
“Both sides dismissed the growing negative propaganda against CPEC and expressed determination to safeguard the CPEC projects from all threats,” the statement said. In order to further expand cooperation under CPEC, the two sides announced the setting up of a working group on social-economic development to assist with livelihood projects in Pakistan.
In a precarious fiscal condition currently, Pakistan has sought an emergency bailout loan of $8 billion from the International Monetary Fund and is also seeking new loans from Saudi Arabia and China as its foreign reserves have plunged 42 per cent since the start of the year.
During his visit, PM Khan is said to have sought financial support from China. Beijing, on Saturday, had said that it plans to provide economic aid to Pakistan to tide over its financial crisis but said that the modalities of the deal needed to be worked out. The joint statement, however, makes no reference of any financial help.