Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Pakistan on April 20-21 as part of his first trip abroad this year. Agreements worth billions of dollars were sealed during the visit, encompassing construction projects related to vital infrastructure such as railways, highways and ports and covering the areas of energy, finance, technology and trade. These contracts have given a boost to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a planned network of transportation and energy projects linking southwest Pakistan's deep-water Gwadar Port with northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China in 2013 is unfolding in earnest this year. For instance, the planning and building of financial institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund, which are designed to provide funding for the initiative, are proceeding in an orderly fashion. China has recently unveiled its action plan for the initiative.
The essence of the initiative is economic cooperation. The substantial progress made during the visit, with respect to the CPEC, one of the signature projects of the broader initiative, will provide inspiration for other countries seeking cooperation with one another.
Some may contend that the agreements inked by China and Pakistan on this occasion have evolved from their time-honored relationship. While the two countries have undeniably maintained a sound partnership, this will not affect China's impartiality in carrying out the Belt and Road Initiative and in its cooperation with the countries involved.
In an article titled Pak-China Dosti Zindabad (Long Live Pakistan-China Friendship), which was published in the Pakistani press on the eve of his visit, President Xi said what China pursues is not just in the interests of the Chinese people, but aims also for the common good of people all over the world. The purpose of China's Belt and Road Initiative is to promote common development by enhancing connectivity among countries along these routes.
After wrapping up his short stay in Pakistan, Xi went to Indonesia for commemorative activities held to mark the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference, also referred to as the Asian-African Conference. It has consistently been China's policy to boost collaboration in Asia and Africa. At present, the countries of the two continents are becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent, forming a community with a shared future. As most of the countries participating in the events were related to the Belt and Road Initiative, it is expected that they can find a fresh impetus for cooperation from the example set by China and Pakistan.