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Tuesday, February 20, 2024
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    Pakistan and China Forge Stronger Ties with a Lunar Twist

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    Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has returned to Pakistan after a whirlwind five-day visit to China. This extraordinary trip saw the signing of over 20 agreements between Islamabad and Beijing, covering a wide range of areas, including currency swapping and even a joint endeavor to build a research station on the moon’s south pole. While the visit aimed to strengthen bilateral ties, including those connected to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), President Xi Jinping expressed a strong desire for assurances regarding the security of Chinese personnel working in Pakistan.

    The diverse array of agreements encompasses the year-round operation of the Khunjerab border crossing, cooperation on Afghan matters, a deepening of trust and coordination between their respective armed forces, facilitation of peace talks between Palestine and Israel, currency exchange, collaboration in lunar research station construction, infrastructure development, mining, industry, green and low-carbon initiatives, healthcare, digital economy advancement, development cooperation, and the export of agricultural products to China.

    In a compelling turn of events on the final day of his visit, Prime Minister Kakar observed Friday prayers in Xinjiang province, an action that sets him apart as one of the few Muslim leaders to visit the region where more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities reside.

    The joint statement issued upon the conclusion of Prime Minister Kakar’s visit emphasized the mutual support between the two nations on issues concerning their core interests. Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to the one-China Principle and its recognition of Taiwan as an integral part of Chinese territory. Pakistan also voiced its unwavering support for Beijing’s pursuit of national reunification and its opposition to any form of “Taiwan independence.”

    A momentous highlight of the visit was the signing of an initial cooperation agreement on China’s lunar program in Beijing. This groundbreaking collaboration will encompass various aspects of the Chinese lunar base program, including engineering and operational aspects, enhancing the scope of the partnership.

    Recognizing the vital role of Gwadar Port in cross-regional connectivity, both countries resolved to accelerate the development of the port and its related projects. They also expressed their commitment to bolster cooperation in agriculture, industry, mining, geological surveys, joint research on geology and minerals, talent training, and the planning of mining industrial parks.

    Within the framework of the monumental China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an agreement was reached to keep the Khunjerab border open throughout the year, ensuring a continuous flow of goods and people. This step addresses the seasonal closure of the border due to extreme winter weather.

    The progress of essential projects such as the desalination plant, the New Gwadar International Airport, and the Pak-China Friendship Hospital was reviewed with satisfaction. Both nations restated their dedication to transforming Gwadar into a high-quality port, a regional trade hub, and a pivotal connectivity point.

    China expressed its willingness to facilitate Pakistan’s expansion of exports to the Chinese market. Protocols were signed to enable the export of heated beef, dried chili, fresh cherries, and dairy products from Pakistan to China, further enhancing bilateral trade.

    The two nations expressed contentment with their cooperation on the Currency Swap Agreement and Renminbi settlement and committed to strengthening financial and banking collaboration.

    While China remains a significant ally and investor in Pakistan, there have been incidents of separatist and militant attacks on Chinese projects, resulting in the loss of Chinese lives. President Xi Jinping underscored the importance of Pakistan ensuring the safety of Chinese organizations and personnel working within its borders, as security concerns remain a paramount consideration for China.

    As Pakistan and China solidify their strategic partnership and explore groundbreaking collaborations, the visit by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar signifies an important chapter in the evolving relationship between the two nations. The promise of lunar research and a stronger CPEC alliance underscores the potential for even greater cooperation in the future.

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