(May 21, 2006)
Ladies and gentlemen, dear Friends:
Today marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan. On this very happy occasion, we are here to celebrate together. Over the past 55 years, the Sino-Pak relations have withstood the test of various international and domestic changes and known as an "all-weather friendship", which is a sound reflection on our relations characterized by mutual understanding, mutual trust and mutual support. Thanks to the efforts of governments in decades and leaders of generations in our two countries, the Sino-Pak good-neighborly and friendly relations have continued to grow stronger and achieved fruitful results from our mutually-beneficial cooperation. As a Chinese diplomat who has been working and living in Pakistan for more than two decades, I have been witnessing the development of our bilateral relations since I came here for the construction of the Karakoram Highway in the 1970s and I have a special feeling towards the friendship and feel proud of its great success.
During the past several years, we two countries have made important progress in military and defense cooperation. A number of up-to-date military equipments such as K-8 jet trainer, 2000 main battle tank and JF-17 fighter have been jointly developed. The Frigate Project is also going on very smoothly. Joint naval exercises and counter-terrorism drills have been carried out between the two Navies and Armies.
In the past 55 years, the volumes of trade between our two countries have been growing continuously. Last year, it reached more than US$4.2 billion and hit a new high in the history. The scope of our economic and trade cooperation continues to expand and now covers various fields such as industry, energy, hydroelectricity, nuclear power, telecommunications, road, bridge and port, etc.. At present, around 100 Chinese companies are being engaged in the construction of various important projects in Pakistan, of which Chashma-II nuclear power project, Gwadar Port project, Saindak copper and gold mine project, Duddar lead and zinc mine project are all going on smoothly. The Chinese government has always been extending assistance to Pakistan at its best capacity and a number of new large cooperative projects are proved to be new historic monuments for the Sino-Pak friendship.
China and Pakistan are enjoying extensive and close cooperation in culture, education, tourism and people to people contacts. In the recent two years, 100 young people from each side have paid a visit to the other side, further deepening the mutual understanding and friendship among our younger generation. Cultural and educational cooperation is enjoying good momentum and becoming a shining point of the Sino-Pak relations. The Pakistani government has dispatched many and will continue to dispatch more talented students to China for doctoral degrees. Apart from those enjoying government scholarships, over 700 Pakistani students have gone to China for study at their own expenses. The Chinese side has established "Confucius Institute" in Pakistan to facilitate the teaching and learning of the Chinese language. I believe that more and more Pakistani friends will be proficient in Chinese and become experts on China. Youth is a nation's future, our two sides should further push forward the youth, cultural and educational exchange projects and bring up more and more successors to the great cause of Sino-Pak friendship, so that our traditional friendship can be passed from one generation to another.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
In April 2005, Chinese Premier H.E. Mr. Wen Jiabao paid a successful visit to Pakistan, which greatly promoted our bilateral relations. During the visit, the two sides signed the Treaty of Good-neighborly Friendship and Cooperation, which is the first of its kind China has ever made with a country in South Asia, defining Sino-Pak strategic cooperative partnership in a legal form and marking a new milestone for our bilateral relations. The two sides also signed about 20 bilateral documents covering cooperation in various fields. The two sides agreed to initiate negotiations on Free Trade Area and signed an agreement of Early Harvest Program, which bears full testimony to China's sincerity and determination to help promote Pakistan's economic development and expand bilateral trade cooperation. The Early Harvest Program has been implemented since January 1, 2006.
In February this year, the President of Pakistan, H.E. General Pervez Musharraf paid a successful state visit to China, during which 13 agreements and MOUs were signed including framework agreements on defense and energy cooperation. The two sides expressed their satisfactions with the implementation of the Early Harvest Program, and agreed to expedite the negotiation on the Free Trade Agreement. Both sides attached importance to the utilizing the KKH for promoting overland trade between the two countries, and agreed in principle to upgrade the Highway. In the middle of the coming June, President General Pervez Musharraf will go to China again for the Summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The mutual visits and frequent meetings between our leaderships have vigorously prompted the bilateral relations
China and Pakistan are good neighbors, good friends and good partners as well. To forge a long-standing and stable Sino-Pak strategic cooperative partnership is not only in the common interests of the two countries but also conducive to promote peace and prosperity in the region. I believe that facing new opportunities and challenges, it is time for the two governments and two peoples to join their hands and further their efforts to open a new chapter of the Sino-Pak friendship and cooperation.