China hails Pakistan military as “mainstay” of ties

China says it hopes parties in Pakistan “will stay united”

March 31, 2022 07:13 pm | Updated 07:13 pm IST - Hong Kong

China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian

China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian | Photo Credit: AP/file

China on Thursday described the Chinese military’s relationship with Pakistan’s armed forces as “serving as the mainstay of China-Pakistan friendship”, while Beijing called on all parties in Pakistan “to stay united” with the Imran Khan government in turmoil.

Asked if Beijing was concerned about the instability in Pakistan and the possible impact on ties, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said “China is committed to a non-interference policy.” “As an all-weather strategic cooperative partner and friendly neighbour of Pakistan, China sincerely hopes all parties in Pakistan will stay united and uphold the major interest of development and stability.”

Also on Thursday, China’s military hailed the importance of military-to-military relations between the two countries.

PLA Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence, said “military-to-military relations, serving as the mainstay of the China-Pakistan friendship, have played an important role in the development of bilateral relations for a long time”.

Asked about Pakistan recently receiving China’s J-10CE fighter jets, he said “China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners, true friends and iron brothers that share weal and woe.”

“China is willing to work with Pakistan to accelerate the construction of a closer China-Pakistan community of shared destiny in the new era,” he said, adding that “the Chinese and Pakistani militaries stand ready to expand practical cooperation in various fields to a new level and inject a new impetus into the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries”.

China has over the years maintained close parallel relations with both military and civilian leaderships in Pakistan. The military-to-military ties have particularly underpinned the relationship and anchored relations even as civilian governments in Pakistan have come and gone. Chinese officials have often referred to military ties with Pakistan as playing the role of a “stabiliser”.

The importance of Pakistan’s military to ties was underlined again last week when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi not only had talks in Islamabad with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, but travelled to Rawalpindi to meet Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.

That meeting was rare for Mr. Wang and unique to the dynamic of China-Pakistan relations, as Mr. Wang ordinarily only engages with civilian leaders on overseas visits as the country’s Foreign Minister.

During the meeting, Mr. Wang said “China appreciates the positive efforts and important contributions made by the Pakistani military over the years to consolidate and enhance the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between China and Pakistan, ensure the safe and smooth development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and safeguard the security of Chinese institutions and personnel in Pakistan”, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

He added that the “the Pakistani military has played the role of a stabiliser and ballast stone in building a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.”

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