China and Pakistan have signed five new agreements to deepen bilateral cooperation in various aspects, and further strengthen their “iron-clad friendship”. The agreements were signed during Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Islamabad for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meet, earlier this week. In a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Yi reportedly discussed ways to sustain and build upon the current momentum of bilateral relations between the two countries.
Qureshi said in a statement that the two leaders discussed several issues like bilateral strategies, economic and security cooperation, the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation in Ukraine, and regional and international issues of mutual interest. “Ways to further strengthen the iron-clad friendship between the two countries were discussed,” he mentioned in the statement. Qureshi and Yi further discussed ways to maintain deeper engagement to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan, to avoid a humanitarian crisis in the Taliban-led country.
In a tweet before the meeting, Qureshi had said, “Pleased to welcome my friend Wang Yi State Councilor & FM of China as special guest for OIC In Pakistan. This is the first time China is participating in an OIC & I am confident that interactions with OIC country counterparts will further strengthen engagement.”
Wang Yi’s first visit to Pakistan since the outbreak of COVID-19, comes at the outset of the 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC. Yi was invited by Pakistan, as the special guest at the two-day conference held during March 22-23. During the meeting, the Chinese foreign minister assured Pakistan of Beijing’s complete support in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity “no matter what changes” internationally or within the two countries.
According to an official Chinese statement, Yi was quoted as saying, “First, giving firm support to each other… No matter what changes take place in the international situation and their respective countries. China will stick to its friendly policy toward Pakistan, firmly support the Pakistani people in taking a development path that fits their own national conditions, and support Pakistan in defending its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”
Stating that China and Pakistan need to have a “closer community of a shared future”, Yi said, “China supports Pakistan in severely punishing the perpetrators of the Dasu terrorist attack, appreciates its efforts to strengthen the security of Chinese personnel and projects in Pakistan, and will, as always, help Pakistan improve its law enforcement and security capacity.”
Though OIC members are expected to raise concerns over the alleged abuse of Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the Chinese foreign minister is expected to push Beijing’s narrative on how well the Communist Party of China treats said minorities. Stating that cooperation between China and the Islamic world is crucial, Yi said, “China and the Islamic world both enjoy a profound history, seek similar values and share historic missions.”