Pakistan and China have commenced celebrations to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi formally commenced activities during a virtual ceremony that was simultaneously held in Islamabad and Beijing, said a Pakistani Foreign Ministry statement.
Qureshi said successive generations of leaders and people of Pakistan and China have made “invaluable” contributions to strengthen ties between the two nations that were established in May 1951.
“We pay tribute to the Chinese leadership which has done an incredible job in changing the lives and destiny of its people,” he said. “We believe that President Xi Jinping’s leadership, at a momentous history, has greatly helped the Chinese nation achieve its national aspirations.”
Qureshi reaffirmed that a multibillion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of Beijing’s ambitious Belt Road Initiative, will become a “high-quality demonstration project.”
The $64 billion CPEC that was signed in 2014 is intended to connect China’s strategically important northwestern Xinjiang province to the Gawadar port in southern Pakistan, through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.
Chinese Foreign Minister observed that the Sino-Pakistan friendship has a “time-honored history and in the seven decades the two countries have stood together in rain or shine, and built an exceptional, iron-clad friendship.”
A logo was unveiled during the ceremony epitomizing the historic nature of Pakistan-China ties. The two nations have planned a series of events, including people-to-people exchanges, that are spread across the entire year to commemorate the historic milestone.
Pakistan will receive another half a million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from China as a gift, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi confirmed.
Qureshi said Beijing has always helped Islamabad in difficult times. “Today, on this occasion, China has offered another gift to the Pakistani nation and will send us 500,000 more doses of Sinopharm vaccine,” he said.
On Feb. 1, Pakistan received the first batch of 500,000 doses of the vaccine as a gift from its longtime ally.
The country has already begun a much-awaited vaccination campaign. In the first phase, frontline health workers and those over age 65 are being inoculated.
In January, the government announced it has secured 17 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through the UN-led COVAX initiative.
So far, the country’s drug regulator has approved the emergency use of China’s Sinopharm and CanSino, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines.
Last week, authorities relaxed a number of restrictions on commercial activities and official work.
While the time limit on commercial activities was lifted and the condition of 50% attendance at workplaces removed, permission to hold indoor wedding ceremonies and opening of cinemas and shrines was also granted from March 15.