Beijing: China and Pakistan have reaffirmed their commitment to the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor scheme and China has called for a "peaceful" resolution to the Kashmir issue via existing protocols, said a joint statement issued by the office of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the end of his visit to the Beijing Winter Olympics.
The joint statement said "both sides expressed their strong determination to safeguard CPEC from all threats and negative propaganda". A host of other MoUs were signed in the fields of economic and technical, industry, investment, infrastructure, space, vaccine, digitalisation, standardisation, disaster management, culture, sports and vocational education, The statement said.
In his meeting with Khan, Xi while calling for "firmer confidence" between China and Pakistan relations said that "strategic significance" of all-weather ties are "getting more prominent" as two countries signed several agreements to firm up all-weather ties.
In addition to this, China said it opposed any "unilateral" action on Kashmir, suggesting the issue be "properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements."
"They emphasised the importance of pursuit of dialogue and resolution of all outstanding disputes to promote regional cooperation and advance the goals of lasting peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region," it said.
China also took up issues of safety of Chinese workers in Pakistan, who are involved in various projects associated with the CPEC. Terror attacks and setbacks for projects were a major concern raised, although Pakistan has vowed to fight terrorism and pledged to enhance safety measures as such.
Another new Framework Agreement on Industrial Cooperation has been announced, to begin the construction of the 2nd phase of the CPEC in which China has so far invested about USD 25 billion, according to its envoy to Islamabad, Nong Rong.
The joint statement said "the two sides are ready to discuss with Afghanistan the extension of the CPEC to Afghanistan". China's Xi Jinping expressed China's willingness to work with Pakistan to expand cooperation in the fields such as science and technology, agriculture and people's wellbeing, build a green, healthy and digital corridor, and support Pakistan's industrialization to enhance its sustainable development capability.
Saturday's meeting between Khan and Premier Li Keqiang saw Keqiang declare that Pakistan is China's priority in neighbourhood diplomacy and encourages its business enterprises to invest.
India has staunchly refused to acknowledge the CPEC as a legitimate project owing to the mention of Jammu and Kashmir which External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi declared as an "inalienable" part of India along with the Union Territory of Ladakh.
This is Khan's fourth visit to China as he paid last visit in October 2019.