China-Pakistan relations to get closer and stronger: Pakistani Prime Minister
Published: Feb 06, 2022 07:36 PM
Photos:?Courtesy?of Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to China

Photos: Courtesy of Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to China

Editor's Note
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is one of the world dignitaries who attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics on Feb 4. The Global Times (GT) reporters Liu Caiyu and Xing Xiaojing spoke to Mr Khan on his visit to Beijing via a virtual exclusive interview on February 5.

GT: How do you feel about coming to Beijing to attend the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics? What expectations do you have for China in holding the Games?
Khan:I have played almost 20 years of international sport, but since I became the prime minister, I hardly have any time to watch any international sports. So being invited to watch the Winter Olympics was a great pleasure for me. I must say the event was so impressive. I've never seen an event like that, those fireworks and especially the effect of lighting. It was just out of this world.
When a country is going up, when it has self-belief, it can reach out to everyone. Only that sort of country can produce the spectacular event I went to last night.
This is my fourth visit to Beijing as a prime minister. Many years ago, I came when I was just a politician, a member of parliament. China changes every two years. You can't recognize it. When you come here, you think you're in a different country. I've never seen a country change so quickly in terms of infrastructure. 
To hold Olympics during the pandemic is one of the most difficult things to do. The only way that one country could do it is that it must have incredible discipline.

GT: In the field of winter sports, have China and Pakistan engaged in any collaboration and exchanges? How will the Winter Olympics add momentum to bilateral ties between China and Pakistan?
Khan: In Pakistan, there is no tradition of winter sports. Now we are paying attention to winter sports for the first time. The main place where we could exchange winter sports is in remote northern areas that neighbors China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It is China that has helped us to build the Karakoram Highway which links northern areas to other parts of Pakistan. Some of the top 10 highest mountains are in Pakistan. We have high mountains with great skiing slopes. Skardu is right in the northern areas with an international airport. So now, we will have people coming from all over the world.
Everyone would be watching live the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics in Pakistan. We have a Pakistani competing in this Olympics; we're coming here to also promote the Olympics in Pakistan.

GT: Pakistan-China relationship has been described as that of "iron brothers." How do ordinary Pakistanis see China? In 2021, the two countries celebrated the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, what is your expectation for the future of China-Pakistan relations?
Khan: Pakistan and China not only see each other as iron brothers, but they also think that China and Pakistan relationship is as high as the Himalayas. It's the people-to-people relationship. When you have people to people relationship, it means governments can come and go, but the relationship will always stay because it's embedded in the people of the two countries.
China and Pakistan relationship goes back 70 years, and it's an all-weather relationship. We have stood with each other throughout the 70 years. With other countries, sometimes we've had good relationships, and have periods of not so good relationships with them, but with China it's been consistent for 70 years.
When the Pakistan contingent was walking in, there was applause in the stadium. Apart from China that received the biggest applause, Pakistan is among the countries that got probably the next biggest applause in the stadium. We were all very impressed and pleased by that.
China-Pakistan ties will get stronger and stronger in the future, because of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is something that connects Pakistan and China, part of the Belt and Road Initiative of President Xi Jinping. CPEC is not just going to connect us, not just about road connectivity, but about cooperation, industrialization, agriculture and tourism, so the relationship between the two countries will just get closer and stronger.

GT: What potential development of the CPEC should we expect in 2022? 
Khan: The first phase of CPEC was connectivity. As CPEC moved into the second phase it means special economic industrial zones, agriculture, which is Pakistan's backbone. The main employer in Pakistan is agriculture. We expect China to help us increase our productivity in agriculture, then in information, technology and IT. Technology is the future. We are inviting Chinese companies to come to Special Technology Zones, and operate these technology zones. Apart from that, tourism is going to be the future because of interaction between people of the two countries and the connectivity.

GT: The Communist Party of China (CPC) will convene the 20th National Congress of the CPC in Beijing in the second half of 2022. What's your assessment of the achievements the CPC has brought to China and the world over the years? 
Khan: CPC has achieved the greatest achievements in the history of mankind. CPC has lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty in the last 30 to 40 years. Last year Xi announced the end of extreme poverty in China. There can be no greater achievement than this. This has to be the greatest achievement of any civilization.
This is where, certainly we in Pakistan, want to learn from China. We're already learning, we are trying to follow the Chinese model. How do we get people out of poverty? For me, the biggest challenge of a government is to take care of the people who are at the bottom of the social structure. Civilizations are not judged by how the rich people live, it's how the poor people live.
The other thing about China that strikes me is the culture of meritocracy. Party School of CPC explained to me how they bring their best people and utilize their talents. That is a very, very impressive thing about China. Any society that has meritocracy will beat those societies which do not have it.
Another thing that I find fascinating about China is the discipline of its society. No other society has such kind of discipline. Again, coming back to the way China's dealing with COVID-19, when you look around the world, no society is dealt with COVID-19 like China has. When you look at Europe, the US and other countries, there are demonstrations against restrictions, against lockdowns. But in China, because the people believe in the government and believe that the government looks after them, they impose discipline on themselves. That's a very impressive treat in China.