Dr. Meilan He
Associate Professor at Area Study Center, Hebei Normal University, China
The Novel Corona virus (COVID-19 in short) appeared at the end of year 2019, and it has become a global hot topic along with its worldwide spread. China has once again drawn the attention of the world due to the first outbreak at Chinese city Wuhan. Pakistan was caught by the pandemic in February.
Under these circumstances, it has become an imminent global issue that in what way all of the countries unite and share resources to contain the pandemic. China led by President Xi Jinping has taken initiative to help other countries as a responsible nation. Now, the world is benefiting from China’s epidemic preventive experience.
Facing the ruthless virus, Pakistani and Chinese governments and people have expressed mutual support and moral and material aid. Their actions have again interpreted the genuine friendship of ‘Iron Bothers’ and ‘All Weather’ Strategic Cooperative Partnership Relationship.
Support to Each Other
1. From Pakistani Side
Pakistani government collected and sent urgently-needed medical stuff including eight hundred thousand masks, a large number of protective suits and gloves to China at the moment of the outbreak. Besides, Pakistanis from all walks of life came to help. Some Pakistani students donated masks to Chinese doctors and nurses through their universities and some Pakistani doctors working in China volunteered to go to Wuhan joining the medical team.
The Senate and National Assembly of Pakistan summoned meetings to support Chinese fight against COVID-19, which is the first parliament resolution in the world to show solidarity to China. At the start of the outbreak some countries started to evacuate their nationals from China but Pakistani government firmly decided to keep Pakistani students in Wuhan and other cities and appreciated Chinese government for its epidemic control measures and the help and care it extended to Pakistani nationals.
As a great gesture to support China in fighting COVID-19, Pakistan newspaper with the largest national readers —- The News, published the paper ‘Defeating the COVID-19 Outbreak’ by Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The publication is an open expression to appreciate and recognize the efforts and achievements made by the Chinese government and people in the anti-virus battle.
Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote to the Chinese leadership, and called President Xi Jinping to express his support. He hailed China’s powerful response of taking preventive measures to control the epidemic, and pointed out that China has set the model for the world to fight off the pandemic. He said, ‘no country can do better than China’.
President Arif Alvi also highly praised the vigorous and efficient measures by the Chinese government to prevent and control the epidemic. He said that the government and people of China have been striving extremely hard to curb the transmission of the pandemic. Their excellent work has been acknowledged by WHO. Chinese government has set up a benchmark for global public health security, and this reflects the responsibilities of a big country. During his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on his visit to China on March 16th-17th, President Arif Alvi made a statement that he chose this moment to visit because he wanted to tell the entire world that Pakistani government and people firmly believe that the Chinese government led by President Xi Jinping has taken right measures and actions in fighting against the pandemic. Pakistani people are strongly in support of Chinese people and will stand with China all the way in this difficult time.
2. From Chinese Side
Chinese government has been taking full responsibilities for those Pakistani nationals living in China since the Corona virus broke out. They have been well looked after like the local Chinese. Because there is a large number of Pakistani students studying in China, for instance, one thousand only in Wuhan city, Chinese government has attached special importance to Pakistani students and has done its best to take care of their safety and studies. I have to mention that China Southern Airline arranged charted flight for those Pakistanis stranded in Urmuqi and sent them back home safely.
On learning COVID-19 appearing in Pakistan, the government of China sent messages through its embassy in Pakistan that China would spare no efforts to work with Pakistan, share its experience and resources in fighting against the pandemic. Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing stated in a press conference that China and Pakistan are good brothers who have stood together through thick and thin. China supports all of the preventing and controlling measures taken by Pakistani government and will cooperate with Pakistan in line with International Health Regulations” and WHO advice for eradicating the pandemic. The Handbook of COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment has been posted on embassy website to share with Pakistani people.
Besides, Chinese government has provided 13000 Corona virus test kits in batches and sent the medical team from Jiangsu Province to Pakistan for helping Pakistani government and people. Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has also dispatched medical masks and other anti-epidemic materials. Overseas Chinese living in Pakistan have also contributed greatly to support local people fighting off the virus.
Along with the efforts to crack down COVID-19, Chinese agricultural experts team came to Pakistan to help deal with the severe locust attack which is said to be the worst locust infestation in more than 25 years. The Chinese experts have done extensive field investigation in two of the worst-hit provinces of Baluchistan and Sindh. Locust control pesticides and equipments from China have been sent to Pakistan as well.
Chinese exports have reduced due to the epidemic crisis, and it has affected the economic development of all the affected countries and regions. For example, Pakistan is among the top 20 affected countries according to UN Conference on Trade and Development. Its most seriously affected textile and garments industries have lost tens of millions dollars. The small business units of China and Pakistan have faced more challenges from the epidemic crisis in their operations. Some of them have overcome difficulties and adopted survival strategies. Everest Exhibition Company Ltd. is one of them. The company organized video docking conferences, and provided free services for Chinese small enterprises to find customers for generators and the related machines in Pakistan. More than 30 purchase orders have been placed within two weeks, according to the general manager of the company.
As CPEC is often used as a synonym for Pak-China relations since 2013, I shall not miss mentioning its progress during the period of the pandemic. Although affected by COVID-19, CPEC projects have been in smooth operation. CPEC working groups have held video conferences and the next CPEC Joint Committee Conference will be held later in this year. The first CPEC rail transportation project “Lahore Orange Line” has officially signed operation and maintenance contract with a Chinese corporation. Karot Hydro-power plant has had its 4 units topped off. Karachi-Peshawar railway line (ML1) again called for bid. The second phase of Pak-China Free Trade Agreement has initiated its implementation. In addition, China and Pakistan have signed some agreements and MOUs in the fields of food safety and research, plant pests prevention and artificial intelligence training during Pakistani President Arif Alvi’s visit to China this month.
Brotherly Friendship Tradition
It goes without saying that China and Pakistan are working shoulder to shoulder to fight against COVID-19. Pak-China relationship embodies both the brotherhood and the practical cooperation that is why the word “Iron brother” is so familiar to everyone in China. The special friendship is deeply rooted in the hearts of the two peoples. Giving mutual help and support to overcome the difficult time has become a good tradition between the two nations, which will certainly last generation to generation. The more difficult time is, the more solid the friendship is. President Xi Jinping has stated on several occasions that China and friendly countries have been jointly fighting against the pandemic, their feelings and cooperation will be deeper and closer. In face of the common enemy, COVID-19, China and Pakistan have been working hand in hand. Facts have proved once again that China and Pakistan are true friends who share weal and woe and good brothers who share each other’s joys and sorrows. This is exactly what President Xi Jinping expressed in the meeting with Pakistani President Arif Alvi. We are confident that China and Pakistan will continue contributing towards promoting a unique international relationship for a shared human community.