ISLAMABAD, Dec 19 (APP): Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Sunday vowed to stand by Pakistan to confront all challenges, bring peace and stability to the region, and to turn a new page in Pakistan-China relations. “Lets stand together, with a new confidence, and begin a new era of progress and prosperity, by jointly confronting all challenges,” Jiabao said,amidst heavy thumping of desks during his address to the specially convened joint sitting of the Parliament here.
“China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners and share the sorrows and joys of each other as close brothers,” he said.
Premier Wen said both the countries have reached the present stage after passing through difficult phases.
He said as people in Pakistan say that a good neighbour is a blessing, “we in China say it is better to have a good neighbour than a relative, who lives far away.”
Jiabao expressed the belief that the Pakistani people will be able to surmount all difficulties and assured that “the Chinese government and people will firmly stand by you to face all challenges together.”
Premier Wen Jiabao who is the first Chinese and 6th world dignitary to address the joint sitting began his speech by greeting the parliamentarians saying; “Asalam-o-Alaikum”.
He strongly voiced China’s stance against terrorism and said it must not be linked to any particular country or religion.
“There should be no dual standards in this regard,” he said and called for making efforts for addressing the real reasons that lead to terrorism.
“China’s stance is clear and consistent.China while standing along with Pakistan and the international community was making sincere efforts to promote cooperation in this regard,” he said.
He assured that China would continue to enhance interaction with Pakistan in all spheres.
Premier Wen said Pakistan was passing through a difficult phase as it was facing many challenges and problems.But he was confident that the government and people of Pakistan were determined to tackle these and would move ahead.
“The government and people of Pakistan are united and moving forward to safeguard solidarity, prosperity and sovereignty of the country,” he added.
He said the international community was also cognizant of the struggle and efforts being made by the people of Pakistan in facing difficulties and have assured their full support.
Premier Wen Jiabao said “The people of Pakistan have neither been influenced by anyone in the past, nor will they be, in future.”
He said it was the joint strategic vision of China and Pakistan to have an all-weather strategic partnership and added that it was “in conformity with the national interests of the peoples of the two countries.It would help promote peace, stability and prosperity of the region.”
He said “China and Pakistan ties will get more deeper,closer and stronger.”
Premier Wen Jiabao termed the Pak-China friendship as a Pine tree,that remains evergreen despite the harshest of winter, and it has stood the test of time like a strong horse, whose worth is known only when it accomplishes a long journey.
The Chinese Premier assured that China would assist Pakistan in helping it rebuild the damaged infrastructure due to the devastating floods.
“China would fulfill all promises made to Pakistan in this regard,” Premier Wen said.
He said China supports Pakistan to have economic sovereignty and was keen to see it makes progress in all spheres through enhanced trade and business.
He said China would support Pakistan in energy, transport, infrastructure and other areas.He said that during his visit the two countries agreed to ink business deals worth $10 billion,reflecting wide scope of economic and trade growth between the two countries.
Jiabao said China believes that Pakistan would benefit from the bilateral trade deals and increase its exports to China.
He said the ICBC bank has been given permission to open branches at Islamabad and Karachi. He said China was also willing to have a currency swap deal with Pakistan and hoped that their cooperation would enhance further in economic sphere.
The Chinese Premier also assured increased cooperation in fields of education and culture. He said the year 2011 will be celebrated as part of their 60th anniversary and lead to more exchanges in this regard.He said over the next three years China would provide 500 scholarships to Pakistani students and conduct 2000 cataract operations in next two years.
Jiabao said next year 100 Pakistani students will participate in Chinese language program in China and expressed the hope that more Pakistanis will visit China and learn the language.
He said over the years the two countries have been engaged in student exchange programme and said the practice would continue as it would enhance their people to people cooperation.
Premier Wen Jiabao called for preserving the tradition of close exchanges at the leadership level, stepping up of communication and coordination on issues that concern respective core interests of the two countries, and firmly support and help each other.
He said China welcomes Pakistan’s effort to capitalize on the preferential terms in the bilateral Free Trade Agreement to expand exports to China.
On regional and international cooperation, the Chinese premier said both countries should enhance their coordination and cooperation in regional and international affairs.
He said China and Pakistan have common interests and broad consensus on major international issues as the UN reform, the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, climate change, and food and energy security, Wen said.
“We should make joint efforts to meet challenges and promote harmonious and sustainable development of the world,” Premier Wen said.
He recalled his visit to Pakistan five years back and said this time too, with the warm welcome, it felt as if he was visiting his home. He said the people of China and Pakistan are like brothers and their ties are “deep rooted” and “rock solid” that have stood the test of time.
He said their relationship was based on the vision and far sightedness of their leaders and love of their people.
Premier Wen said Pakistan has always supported China in all those critical times and mentioned that it stood by it whether it was the issue of membership to the UN General Assembly, relations between the United States of America and China, or on the issues pertaining to Taiwan, Tibet and Sinkiang.
The Chinese Premier also recalled that Pakistan was first to support China in the aftermath of the earthquake at the Sichuan province and rushed to its aid.
He said over half the century China has always sincerely supported the sovereignty, integrity and independence of Pakistan at all levels.
He recalled that several Chinese have laid down their lives to help their Pakistani brethren and said they risked their lives in search, relief and rescue of the flood affected people. Similarly the Pakistanis rescued 268 Chinese workers in Pakistan.
He said the friendship between the two countries has deep roots and “runs in our blood”.
Premier Wen appreciated the hard working, resilient and committed Pakistani nation who were proud of their rich historical and cultural heritage and said they have achieved remarkable successes.
He said despite the several challenges the people of Pakistan have stood the test of time and remained steadfast to protect their national interests. He also lauded their commitment to ensure lasting peace and stability in the region and good ties with their neighbours.