A Late-night Phone Call, Prompt Action and Solid Fraternity
Speech of Director-General Liu Jinsong At the 2nd Pakistan-China Think Tank Forum
Published: Sep 10, 2022 10:32 AM
Director-General Liu Jinsong of the Asian Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Director-General Liu Jinsong of the Asian Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On 8 September 2022, Director-General Liu Jinsong of the Asian Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended on-line the 2nd Pakistan-China Think Tank Forum co-hosted by the Islamabad Strategic Studies Institute and the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. Director-General Liu delivered the following speech: 

Over the past year, China-Pakistan relations withstood tests and the friendship between the two countries remained rock-solid. There are three things that impress me the most.

The first is that China has made full efforts to help fight the floods in Pakistan. Since June, Pakistan has encountered the most severe flood disaster in decades. It has caused more than 1,000 deaths and affected over 33 million people. Satellite images show that one eighth of Pakistan's land was covered by floods. Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong told me that when he joined Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in inspecting flood-hit areas, he saw that the vast rural areas of Sindh Province had already been submerged. I myself also saw on TV that dry land turned into swamps, where rainstorm and floods washed away bridges and roads, cut off transportation, inundated farmland, destroyed houses, displaced local residents and put kids out of school. The Chinese people empathize with the people of Pakistan and share their pain and concern. At the same time, we admire the tenacious character of the Pakistani people who have pulled together for self-relief and quickly begun rebuilding their homes.

China and Pakistan are ironclad brothers with a tradition of mutual support and help. We will never forget that in the aftermath of the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, Pakistan promptly sent every tent it had to China's affected areas by military planes. For every kindness it receives, China will return many times more. We regard our ironclad brother's difficulties as our own difficulties. As severe floods hit Pakistan, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang sent messages of condolences to President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif respectively. China has provided 4,000 tents, 50,000 blankets and 50,000 pieces of waterproof tarp under the social and livelihood cooperation framework of the CPEC and all of them were put into use on the frontline against floods.

I recall that at the late night of 22 August, Pakistan's Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque contacted me for emergency aid. We acted swiftly in the early hours of the next morning to give full support to Pakistan to fight floods. With the urgent coordination of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), China provided Pakistan with 100 million RMB yuan of emergency humanitarian aid. At the end of August, the first 3,000 tents of a total of 25,000 were flown from Sichuan Province to Pakistan by Chinese military airplanes and put into use. As the flood situation evolved, CIDCA added 300 million RMB yuan of humanitarian assistance. Other urgent relief supplies such as vegetables and tents are being arranged quickly.

The Chinese people are lending a helping hand as well. Pakistani Embassy's emergency relief account received 1 million yuan of donations within hours after it's opened. A primary school student from Beijing named Luan Mingxuan donated all his pocket money. Chinese civilian teams of rescue volunteers have arrived in Pakistan. Chinese companies in Pakistan took the initiative to repair affected roads and bridges. Recently, Prime Minister Shehbaz expressed sympathy over the deaths and injuries caused by the earthquake in Luding County, Sichuan Province. Floods are merciless but human beings are compassionate. It is proved once again that China-Pakistan friendship is higher than the mountain, deeper than the sea and sweeter than honey. To quote a Chinese saying, "When brothers are of the same mind, they have the power to cut through metal." We are convinced that our Pakistani brothers will prevail over the disaster and rebuild their home.

The second thing that impresses me is that CPEC is providing strong support for Pakistan's economic development and social stability. Not long ago, the Karot plant, the first hydropower project under CPEC, was put into operation after seven years' construction. It has created thousands of local jobs and, with an annual output of 3.2 billion kWh, it now provides affordable clean energy for 5 million families. It is estimated to reduce 3.5 million tons of carbon emissions every year, which will help Pakistan enhance energy security and transition into a green economy. 

CPEC has entered the stage of high-quality development. Prime Minister Shehbaz attaches great importance to CPEC. He has visited Gwadar Port twice, convened meetings with Chinese companies and responded to their requests on the spot. The Rashakai Industrial Park is attracting more and more investors. Industrial, agricultural and social livelihood cooperation under CPEC is making solid progress, making new contributions to Pakistan's industrialization and modernization. 

The third thing that impresses me is Pakistan's firm support for China on issues concerning China's core interests such as Taiwan and Xinjiang. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to China's Taiwan region last month seriously infringes on China's sovereignty, interferes with China's internal affairs and jeopardizes peace across the Taiwan Strait. The government, parliament and members of various political parties of Pakistan stepped forward and reiterated their firm commitment to the one-China principle, sending a message of justice together with over 100 countries around the world. Recently, after the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights released the so called "assessment" on Xinjiang, the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan immediately spoke up and gave China invaluable support. 

I grew up in Xinjiang. The Xinjiang people have the biggest say about Xinjiang's human rights situation. People who have been to Xinjiang say that Xinjiang is a good place. There has not been a single incident of violent terrorism in Xinjiang over the past five years. Xinjiang is the most popular tourism destination of China this summer. Those lies of the US and the West fall apart in the face of all these facts.

Under the combined impact of COVID-19, the Ukraine crisis and the beggar-thy-neighbor fiscal and monetary policies of some developed countries, the issues of food, energy, financial, supply chain and ecological insecurity are increasingly outstanding. Quite a few Asian countries are facing rising food prices, fertilizer shortages and soaring energy prices. Faced with continuous currency depreciation, decreasing foreign exchange reserves and rampant inflation, some Asian countries see growing financial risks that have affected society and people's livelihoods and, in some cases, led to political turbulence. Some Western countries are creating small circles, erecting walls and seeking decoupling, putting regional supply chains at risk of breakdown. I believe, against such a backdrop, China and Pakistan as all-weather strategic partners need to do the following: 

— Enhance solidarity, cooperation and mutual support. We need to keep the tradition of high-level interactions, firmly support each other in safeguarding core interests, and give each other firm strategic support. China stands ready to share governance experience with Pakistan and offer full support to Pakistan's efforts to fight floods and rebuild.

— Work together for high-quality development of CPEC. We need to strengthen industrial cooperation and develop safe and stable industrial and supply chains. We need to enhance law enforcement and security cooperation and ensure the safety of Chinese personnel, institutes and projects in Pakistan. We need to make common efforts to tell the stories of CPEC well so that rumors and slanders can find no market.

— Take the lead in implementing the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and the Global Security Initiative (GSI). We need to strengthen cooperation in areas such as poverty reduction, food security, COVID-19 response and vaccines, development financing, climate change and green development, industrialization, digital economy and connectivity. We need to take the lead in following up on the 32 outcomes of the High-level Dialogue on Global Development. We need to jointly implement the GSI, stay committed to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and practice true multilateralism, so as to contribute to peace and tranquility in our region and the wider world.

We Chinese believe faith can cut through metal and stone. Pakistan's founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah once said: "We are not afraid of the deep sea or the fire, because we believe in the sun and the future." I am convinced that, with the joint efforts of friends from all walks of life including think tanks and scholars from both countries, China-Pakistan relations will usher in an even brighter future!

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Bilal Shah, Acting Director-General of the China Division of Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressed in his speech condolences over the lives lost at the earthquake at Luding County, Sichuan Province on 5 September, and sympathy for the bereaved families and injured. Bilal spoke highly of China-Pakistan relations, and sincerely thanked China for providing Pakistan with much-needed support to fight floods. He said that the Pakistani side commends the GSI and the GDI put forward by President Xi Jinping, and pointed out that confrontation and conflict serves no one's interests, and cooperation and development are the mainstay of the times. He highlighted that Pakistan is committed to working with China to deepen the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, promote high-quality development of the Belt and Road initiative, CPEC in particular, and make positive contributions to regional peace and stability.