Gilani wins China's backing to counter tense ties with US

On the last day of his four day visit, Gilani met Chinese President Hu Jintao, who reaffirmed China's firm backing to its beleaguered strategic ally saying, Pakistan has made outstanding contributions in the fight against terrorism and international community, meaning Washington should respect its sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.

"The two sides shared the view that against the background of a complex and ever changing international and regional situation, it is of high significance to consolidate and deepen the China-Pakistan all weather strategic partnership," a China-Pak joint statement said today.

The bilateral ties will be stepped up "in line with the principles and spirit of the treaty of friendship, Cooperation and Good-neighborly relations between the People's Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan signed in 2005," it added.

Hu, General-Secretary of the ruling Communist Party also called upon the international community to help Pakistan in its endeavor to combat extremism and terrorism asserting that it is an important country in the region and has a unique role in promoting the reconciliation and development in Afghanistan.

Hu's assertions formed part of carefully orchestrated campaign by Beijing to highlight its support for Pakistan during Gilani's visit.

This coupled with "revelations" by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in his talks with his Pakistani counterpart that Beijing has conveyed its firm stand to US during recent strategic dialogue with Washington, made analysts to speculate that China is deftly playing Pakistan card against America just as US was poised to gain an upper hand in Pakistan and Afghanistan after bin Laden's killing.

A joint statement issued at the end Gilani's visit said "Chinese side recognised the tremendous efforts and the great sacrifice that Pakistan has made in fighting terrorism."

The statement said "the two sides shared the view that terrorism, separatism and extremism pose serious threats to regional peace, stability and security, reaffirming their resolve to undertake substantive cooperation under bilateral and multilateral frameworks, and jointly fight the three forces."

"Pakistan reiterated that it would never allow its territory to be used to attack any country and will continue to support international counter-terrorism cooperation," it said.

China said it is "firm on the policy of pursuing friendly ties with Pakistan," and Pakistan stressed that pursuing friendship with China is the "bedrock of Pakistan's foreign policy and enjoys national consensus," according to the joint statement.

Explaining China's stand, Rong Ying, Senior Fellow at the state run Chinese Institute of Strategic Studies told official CCTV today that China and Pakistan play strategic balancing role in the region which is undergoing unprecedented transformation which has lot of uncertainties ahead.

"China wants Pakistan's role and policy should be recognised as it was made by Pakistan itself based in its own interest and supported by its people.

I believe in the years ahead China and Pakistan cooperation will continue to play such kind of role for safeguarding regional and global stability," he said.

Besides winning Chinese support and solidarity to deal with turbulent situation at home and abroad, Gilani secured 50 JF-17 Thunder jets from Pakistan on what was stated as easy loan terms.

Though China declined to reveal details, the Chinese offer surprised analysts here as the jet is currently was being joint produced by Pakistan and China in their respective countries for the past few years.

China has also announced USD 400 million economic package as well as a host new projects to expand Pakistan's infrastructure.

The joint statement said the two sides signed three agreements and an MOU on cooperation in economic assistance, finance and mining.

The two sides reiterated they will continue to enhance mutual trust and cooperation in military and security for peace, security and stability of the two countries and the region, it said adding that they agreed to give further impetus to exchanges and cooperation in maritime security.

Before leaving for home, Gilani visited China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) where a Pakistani satellite PAKSAT-1R is under construction.

EXIM Bank of China had announced a soft-term credit of 86.5 million RMB for the manufacturing of PAKSAT-1R.

Pakistan and China have cooperation in various fields including the space technology and Pakistan's first satellite Badar was also launched with the help of China in 1990. 

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