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Pak-China Relations: Bilateral and Beyond Bilateral Exchanges PDF Print E-mail

 Chinese experts on Pakistan outline future of bilateral relations between the two countries

In continuation of its decade-long program on Pak-China relations, Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) organized a three-day conference on ‘Pak-China Relations: Bilateral and Beyond Bilateral Exchanges’ in collaboration with three Chinese institutions: Institute of South Asian Studies, Chengdu, Institute of South Asian Studies, Kunming, Institute of Central Asian Studies, Urumqi, and two Pakistani institutions: University of Peshawar and University of Management and Technology (UMT), Lahore, from April 28 to 30, 2014.

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The first day of the conference was held at IPS on April 28, 2014. The morning and afternoon sessions of the event, which were titled ‘Afghanistan, War on Terror and Regional Scenario’ and ‘Connectivity, Economic Cooperation and Related Issues’, were chaired by Dr. Rifaat Hussain, professor and chairman, department of Government & Public Policy, NUST and Dr. Gulfraz Ahmed, former secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, respectively.

The keynote speaker, Ambassador (r) Khalid Mehmood advocated the idea of Pak-China economic corridor and called for determined and meaningful efforts by concerned authorities to make this dream a reality in near future.

He stressed that Pakistan also needs to think strategically by strengthening its services and industries to benefit from this corridor in the time to come.

It was followed by a detailed presentation on ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ by Dr. Xie Daigang, executive director, Center for South Asia West, China, who emphasized on the importance of the project for both countries, as it will connect West China with Pakistan through road, railway, oil & gas pipeline, and optical fiber.

He said that this corridor was not merely a passage; instead it will provide development opportunities in the areas of infrastructure, energy, agriculture, water conservancy, etc. He said that Pak-China economic corridor was an important part of China’s national strategy for near future.

He also underlined various challenges the idea was hindered with, including the harsh geologic environment and insufficient infrastructure in Pakistan, but suggested the up gradation of Karakoram Highway and creation of livelihood projects along the corridor as the potential solutions to the problem.

Xu Haomiao, a research associate at the XJASS, Umruqi, presented a detailed trade analysis of recent years in his presentation ‘Trade between Xinjiang and Pakistan’. He pointed that there was a huge imbalance in trade where Xinjiang has a trade surplus. He further pointed that a significant decline can also be observed in the trade since 2012 due to various reasons.

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Referring to the solution of the problem, Xu suggested that Xinjiang should make full use of preferential policies of state to expand economic cooperation with Pakistan. He also pointed that the custom clearance procedures should be eased and the efficiency of Pak-China Highway should also be enhanced.

Shi Lan, deputy director, Institute of Central Asian Studies (ICAS), Urumqi, delivered a presentation on ‘Terrorism and Regional Cooperation’.

She said that though terrorism was a common foe for everyone, different countries have their own definitions of terrorism and their own policies of dealing with it.

She was of the view that the US and its allies have spent astronomical amounts fighting the war against terrorism, however, even more than one decade after the US launched its ‘war on terror’, terrorism was far from dead. On the contrary, it was still taking the lives of innocent people from Asia to Africa and from Europe to America. So there was something wrong with the global anti-terrorism policy, and it has to be sorted out what can be done to fix that, she remarked.

One obvious deficiency, according to her, was the lack of global consensus on the fight against terrorism. She also criticized the double standards of some major powers in defining and dealing with terrorism.

Dr. Zhihui Song, senior researcher, ISAS, Changdu threw light on the possibility of Sino-Pak cooperation in Afghanistan. In his presentation, titled ‘Sino-Pak Cooperation in Afghanistan after NATO withdrawal’, he said that Afghanistan faces many threats after the withdrawal of NATO forces in the areas of domestic security and restoring its economy, especially due to the shortage of aid from international community.

He stressed that Pakistan and China must collaborate and work closer with Afghanistan in order to maintain peace and stability in the region.

DG-IPS Khalid Rahman also spoke on the occasion while the presentations were made by Air Commodore (R) Khalid Iqbal on ‘Challenges of Peaceful Rise of China’, Cdr (R) Azhar Ahmed on ‘Evolving Environment in the Indian Ocean’, Brigadier (R) Said Nazir on ‘Post 2014 Regional Scenario and Pak-China Cooperation’, IPS Lead Coordinator Irfan Shahzad on ‘Collaboration for Tackling Non Traditional Challenges’, and IPS researcher Fatima Habib on ‘Pak-China Civilian Nuclear Cooperation: The New Phase’.

The session at University of Peshawar, held on April 29, 2014, was chaired by Prof. Muhammad Rasul Jan, vice chancellor, University of Peshawar. The other speakers included Prof. Dr. Adnan Sarwar, chairman, International Relations Department, University of Peshawar, DG-IPS Khalid Rahman, Ms. Shi Lan, director, Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences (XJASS), Urumqi and Dr. Zhihui Song, Institute of South Asian Studies, Chengdu. The presentations were delivered by Dr. Zahid Anwar, Department of Political Science, University of Peshawar, on ‘Pak-China Cooperation in Post 2014 with Focus on Infrastructural Linkages Development’, Wang Lei, director, Research and Foreign Affairs Department, XJASS, Urumqi, on ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ and Dr. Babar Shah, professor & chairman, Department of Regional Studies, University of Peshawar, on ‘Pak-China Relations in Years Ahead: Challenges and Opportunities’.

At University of Management & Technology (UMT), Amb (r) Akram Zaki, former secretary general, foreign affairs, chaired the event on April 30, 2014, while its was addressed by Prof. Hassan Sohaib Murad, Rector UMT, Lahore, DG-IPS Khalid Rahman, Prof. Dr. Zhihui Song, Institute of South Asian Studies, Chengdu and Prof. Xie Diagang, executive director, Center for South Asia-West China Cooperation & Development Studies, Sichuan University, Chengdu.

The presentations on the third day were delivered by Dr. Ijaz Butt, professor of political science and international relations, on the topic of ‘China’s Recalibration in South Asia’, Prof. Li Jian, vice chancellor, China West Normal University, on ‘Pakistan Foreign Policy in 1950s and its Relations with PRC’, Maria Ines Bastos, assistant professor, School of Governance and Society, UMT Lahore, on ‘The Indian Ocean and the Rise of Multi-Polar World Order: The Role of China and India’, Rashida Hameed, research coordinator at IPS and Ms. Asifa Jahangir, Ph.D scholar, CSAS, University of the Punjab, on ‘Sino-Indian Strategic Relations: South Asia and Pakistan’ and Dr. Irum Khalid, professor, Department of Political Sciences, University of the Punjab Lahore, on ‘China and South Asia: Emerging Dynamics’.

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