China and Pakistan have agreed to step up their defence and counter-terrorism cooperation amidst "challenging times", as Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa held wide-ranging talks with the Chinese military leadership to further cement their all-weather strategic partnership.
Gen Bajwa, accompanied by top Pakistani defence officials, held talks with the Chinese team led by vice-chairman Central Military Commission General Zhang Youxia in Qingdao, the capital city of east China's Shandong province on June 12.
“The tri-service military delegation of Pakistan visited China from June 9 to 12 where it held wide-ranging discussions with senior officials of the Chinese military and other government departments,” according to a statement by the Pakistan Army. The Apex Meeting was held on Sunday where the Pakistani side was headed by Gen Bajwa, while the Chinese side was led by General Zhang.
"Both sides discussed their perspectives on the international and regional security situation and expressed satisfaction on defence cooperation between the two countries,” according to the statement.
"Pakistan and China reaffirmed their strategic partnership in challenging times and agreed to continue the regular exchange of perspectives on issues of mutual interest. Both sides also vowed to enhance their training, technology and counterterrorism cooperation at the tri-service level," it added.
"China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners," said Gen Zhang, noting that over the years, both sides have kept close coordination and firmly supported each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests.
In the meeting, both sides strongly condemned the terrorist attack on the shuttle van of the Confucius Institute at the University of Karachi in Pakistan in April and stressed that “any attempt to undermine the China-Pakistan friendship is doomed to fail,” the Chinese military said in a statement.
Three Chinese teachers were killed when an explosion, triggered by a burqa-clad woman suicide bomber from the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), ripped through a van of the Confucius Institute at the prestigious University of Karachi on April 26.
The separatist BLA said it opposes Chinese investment in Pakistan's resource-rich Balochistan province, saying locals do not benefit. The BLA has targeted Chinese nationals on a number of occasions, as has the Pakistani Taliban. China is heavily involved in large infrastructure projects across Pakistan, including in the Balochistan province.
During the talks, Gen. Zhang said China is willing to strengthen communication, reinforce cooperation, deepen pragmatic exchanges with Pakistan and properly deal with the complicated factors in the regional situation, so as to push the military-to-military relations for further development.
Gen Bajwa said that the Pakistan-China friendship is unbreakable and rock-solid. Pakistan will stand firmly with China at any time, no matter how the international and regional situation changes.
He stressed that Pakistan is ready to enhance dialogue and coordination with the Chinese military, carry out mutually beneficial cooperation, crack down on the terrorist forces, strive to improve the capabilities of both sides in dealing with various security challenges, safeguard the common interests of two countries, and make contributions to regional peace.
The visit was part of the Pakistan-China Joint Military Cooperation Committee (PCJMCC) – its apex committee is the highest military cooperation body. The committee has two sub committees that include Joint Cooperation Military Affairs (JCMA) and Joint Cooperation Military Equipment & Training (JCMET).
Relations between the two countries have grown steadily in all fields despite concerns by the West regarding China’s growing influence in the region.
Pakistan relies on China for military equipment and recently Beijing provided J-10 fighter jets to counterbalance the strategic edge India gained after buying Rafale jets from France. Their multifaceted cooperation has gained more importance in the context of fast-changing regional situations.