Eye on China is a weekly bulletin offering news and analysis related to the Middle Kingdom. This week we cover Wang Qishan’s Pakistan visit; Xi and Modi prepare for Wuhan 2.0; Sin0-US frictions deepen; and much more…
I. Wang Nishan-e-Pakistan
Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan was in Pakistan for a three-day visit this week. CPEC and the security of Chinese investments and personnel were on the top of Wang’s agenda during the visit. According to the Xinhua report of the visit, Wang met with President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan and local leaders of Punjab province. Alvi conferred on Wang the Nishan-e-Pakistan, the country’s highest award for foreign leaders.
Wang, meanwhile, pledged Beijing’s support for Islamabad’s core interests. “No matter how the international landscape changes, China will always stand by Pakistan’s core interests,” he said during an event organised by the Pakistan-China Institute. Interestingly, during the event he also acknowledged leaders from different parts of Pakistan. It’s just indicative of how Beijing is increasingly adapting to working with a diverse set of actors at a sub-national level.
Wang and Imran Khan also launched four new development projects in the fields of energy, technology and education. These include a power transmission line between Matiari and Lahore; the Rashakai Special Economic Zone (RSEZ) project; a Confucius Institute at the University of Punjab; and a Huawei Technical Support Center. Also, bilateral cooperation agreements on cooperation in agriculture, customs, disaster relief were signed. One of the agreements is said to open the $12 to $15 billion dollar Chinese meat market for Pakistani products.
In addition, Wang reportedly raised concerns about the need for “effective measures to provide security guarantees” for CPEC projects and Chinese personnel. To this Khan is said to have informed him that Pakistan had established a special committee to take charge of inter-department and inter-sector coordination and ensure personnel safety of Chinese institutions in Pakistan.
This Sputnik International piece has some details about the nature of the discussions between Wang and the Pakistani leadership. It quotes Professor Du Youkang, director of the Pakistan Study Centre at Fudan University, as saying that Beijing has made adjustments to CPEC projects based on the issues raised by the new Pakistani government. The adjustments related to the Imran Khan-led government’s emphasis on leveraging CPEC for poverty alleviation, industrial development, education, technological and scientific innovation and agricultural development. On the other hand, Natalia Zamaraeva, a Pakistan specialist from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, says that “the parties agreed to increase the number of units of federal troops and law enforcement forces of Pakistan to protect the facilities in which Chinese specialists are working.” She adds: “The parties also agreed on the development of military-technical cooperation, on strengthening the protection of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in its eastern part, where a small segment of the Afghan-Chinese border is located.”
Some other interesting China-Pakistan stories this week include this NYT piece on the trafficking of women from Pakistan to China. Second, the Chinese Defense Ministry says that the armed forces of the two countries will “organize many joint exercises and training oriented towards real combat situation” this year. And finally, a curious visit by a Chinese delegation to Pakistan during which the Pakistani side briefed the visitors about Pakistan’s credentials for NSG membership. The report adds that the Pakistani side also informed the visitors about Pakistan’s “robust nuclear safety and security regime and its export control mechanisms, which were consistent with those adopted by members of the multilateral export control regimes. The Chinese side expressed appreciation for the steps taken by Pakistan in these areas.”
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