Year long celebrations on the occasion of 60 years of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China commenced here last night with a function held at Pak-China Friendship Centre at a colourful ceremony attended by a large number of Pakistanis and Chines nationals.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was the chief guest on the occasion while the launching ceremony of Pakistan-China Friendship year 2011 was attended by Chief of Naval Staff Noman Bashir, diplomats, members of the federal cabinet, politicians, business community representatives, Chinese working in Pakistan and elite of the federal capital.
The diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China established in January 1950 when Pakistan recognized China while Pakistan opened its embassy on May 21, 1951.
Inaugurating the year long celebrations, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan and China enjoy excellent political and diplomatic relations and time has come to take a leap forward to bind the two nations together economically in all the fields.
The Foreign Minister said there was tremendous goodwill and trust between the two countries and they can move towards economic integration.
He said the present government is concentrating on economic diplomacy as national security and territorial integrity are closely linked to economic strength.
Qureshi pointed out that despite some of the economic difficulties because of security situation and fight against extremism and terrorism, Pakistan is recognized internationally as emerging economy with great potential to grow and prosper.
The Foreign Minister said Pakistan and China are cooperating with each other in a number of fields including economy, trade, energy, infrastructure and defence.
“The two countries have unanimity of views on regional and international issues, they support each other at international fora and their defence cooperation is progressing satisfactorily,” he said.
He pointed out that the process of economic integration between the two countries was somewhat limited but there is scope and potential to enhance it manifold.
He acknowledged that China has invested billions of dollars in many projects in Pakistan.
The minister said there are thirteen thousand Chinese engineers and workers in Pakistan contributing to the socio-economic development of the country.
He said the two countries have signed a number of agreements including the one relating to currency swap that will help broaden the economic interaction and achieve target of fifteen billion dollars bilateral trade by 2015.
Qureshi also expressed the confidence that the decision to open branches of the largest Chinese bank in Karachi and Islamabad would facilitate Chinese investment in Pakistan.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Liu Jian speaking on the occasion expressed the confidence that strategic relationship between the two countries would continue to grow.
He said the Chinese Premier paid a very successful visit to Pakistan recently which would help forge ties between the two countries.
The Chinese ambassador said the Pakistani government and people welcomed Premier Wen Jiabao with great warmth and enthusiasm.
He said in the last 60 years, since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two countries have developed an all weather friendship and conducted multi-dimensional cooperation in different fields.
The Chinese ambassador said despite volatile international situation, the China-Pakistan friendship remained as strong and solid as a rock standing firm despite the passage of time.
“This is only because we always respect each other, highly trust each other, and wholeheartedly help each other,” he said.
He said while celebrating the 2011 as year of friendship, both the countries will hold a series of wonderful commemorative activities covering fields like politics, economy, culture, education, sports, military and others.
On this occasion, a photographic exhibition was also organized depicting different aspects of bilateral relations including high level exchanges, people-to-people contacts, sharing of hard times and participation of China in the economic development of Pakistan.
In his inaugural remarks, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said this year also marks establishment of diplomatic representation between the two capitals as Pakistan recognized China in January 1950.
He also read out on the occasion messages addressed by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusaf Raza Gilani to their Chinese counterparts on launching of the friendship year.
In their messages the two leaders expressed determination to take this friendship and partnership to new heights.
Salman Bashir, who had been Pakistan’s ambassador to China said, “I and my family will never forget the kindness, love and affection that we received from our Chinese friends during my stay there.”
He said Pakistan-China friendship is legendary a fascinating romance between two peoples, deeply rooted in national ethos, since times immemorial.
Salman Bashir said, the leadership, the Government, the Armed Forces and, above all, the people of Pakistan and China are united in their resolve to safeguard their national interests, uphold national dignity and frustrate and defeat any evil designs against their motherland.
He said, “Our two peoples will continue to march, hand-in-hand, on the high road to peace and prosperity.”
Later a cultural show, depicting folk songs of different areas of Pakistan were presented on this occasion to start the year long celebrations. Chinese cultural dance was also presented by the Chinese dancers.