Pakistan formally started the drive to administer China-donated Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines to its frontline healthcare workers across the country on Wednesday, said Pakistani Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque on Thursday, hailing Pakistan-China cooperation has been exemplary during one of the worst health crises faced by humanity.
The first batch of 500,000 Sinopharm vaccines reached Pakistan early on Monday from Beijing on a special Pakistan Air Force plane.
“While some were unfortunately trying to politicize the virus, Pakistan stood shoulder to shoulder with our Chinese friends. We shared what [personal protective equipment] PPE we could with China, and our president paid a visit to Beijing at the height of the epidemic with the express intention of demonstrating solidarity with our iron brother,” Haque said in a written interview with the Global Times.
As the pandemic eventually came, Pakistan received whole-hearted support and assistance from China. Importantly, this was not only at the governmental level; even the embassy and our consulates were flooded with gifts of masks, gloves and goggles from ordinary Chinese citizens. This support was invaluable and unforgettable, he said.
Pakistan became the first country to receive vaccine as assistance from the Chinese government. Receiving the first batch of half a million Sinopharm vaccines at the airport, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi thanked the government of China for this generous gift and as well as lauded President Xi Jinping’s vision that COVID-19 vaccines should be a global public good, Haque noted.
7 decades’ footprint
The year of 2021 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan, and Haque said that various events are planned to celebrate the anniversary.
“Over the course of seven decades, our fraternal ties have evolved into an ‘all-weather strategic cooperative partnership,’ finding few parallels in the modern history of inter-state relations. Both countries have progressively enhanced their engagements in diverse fields ranging from political and economic ties to ever-increasing cooperation for enriching cultural and people-to-people exchanges,” Haque said.
As the two countries mark this important milestone, it is a time not only to celebrate our past achievements but also to renew firm determination to continue this journey of friendship and elevate it further to a new pedestal of bilateral cooperation, he said.
During 2021, the Embassy of Pakistan has planned a series of events including exchange of visits, signing of memorandum of understanding, food festivals, exhibitions, trade and investment seminars, sister city ties and publications, he disclosed.
“I am confident that 2021 would provide a new vigor and vitality to our bilateral ties which would not only serve the best interests of our two countries but also ensure peace, stability and prosperity for the entire region,” Haque said.
Pakistan-China bilateral relations offer lessons to other countries as well, which has set a new paradigm for the development of international relations in modern era.
“Our time-tested friendship has clearly demonstrated that cooperation, mutual trust, constructive engagement and pursuit of shared benefits could lead to forming an exemplary and lasting friendship,” the ambassador said.
Pakistan-China relationship has completely negated the notion that bilateral ties are merely the result of convergence of political interests. On the contrary, Haque said he believes that both countries have demonstrated that underlying forces driving strong international cooperation are mutual respect and understanding; common experiences of past; adherence to international norms and values, and a sincere desire to work together for a rule-based, transparent and just international system catering to the legitimate interests of all nations without any discrimination.
Talking about the latest preparations for the 10th CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, Haque said that since the launch of the CPEC in 2013, bilateral cooperation mechanisms have continued to improve and provide a supporting framework for the ever-deeper and ever-broader cooperation.
The number 10 has special significance in all languages. It embodies perfection, fullness and completion, said the ambassador, adding that the 10th meeting of the CPEC JCC will bring the mechanisms of cooperation to perfection, paving the way for ever more fruitful outcomes.
All supporting sub-mechanisms subordinate to the JCC have basically completed their preparations, Haque noted.
Meanwhile, both sides have also continued to break new ground in diverse areas, ranging from industrial relocation to agriculture to high technology.
They have also identified new megaprojects for the next phase of cooperation in improving infrastructure for continued and sustainable growth.
“The 10th JCC will be a milestone in commemorating the achievements and contributions that have made CPEC’s success possible, consolidating our collective gains and charting the course for CPEC’s next phase of higher-quality development,” Haque said.