Political crisis in Pakistan won’t affect friendship with China

The current political crisis in Pakistan, which, at time of writing, has seen Prime Minister Imran Khan forced to relinquish office following his loss of a parliamentary vote of no confidence, a vote he had attempted to derail by dissolving parliament, only to have the dissolution overruled by the Supreme Court, has led to considerable speculation in some anti-imperialist circles, focused not least on the nature and extent of the US role in the crisis and the prospects for China/Pakistan relations.

In an attempt to provide some clarity on these matters we are pleased to republish two important and thoughtful articles from China’s Global Times, both published on April 10. They deserve to be carefully read in full, but we highlight here some salient points by way of introduction. 

An OpEd piece bylined simply as Observer and entitled Futile for US to sow discords between Pakistan and China, states:

“[Imran] Khan implied that the US was behind the motion against him. Chinese scholars argue that even if the US was playing tricks from behind the scene, it cannot sow discord between China and Pakistan.” 

It goes on to quote Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, as saying:

“There is no difference between Pakistan’s major political parties in their friendship and the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership with China. If there’s a difference, it would lie in which party will uphold such relations better.”

Qian further notes that, “In China-Pakistan relations, the Pakistani military has played the role of a stabilizer and ballast stone in building a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future”, adding that, “no matter which party is in power in Pakistan in the future, it should not be labeled as pro-US.”

In similar  vein, the article Pakistan’s political change ‘won’t affect solid friendship with China’ written by senior journalists Yang Sheng and Liu Caiyu, notes:

“The potential successor of Khan is from the Sharif family which has been promoting China-Pakistan ties for a long time, and cooperation between the two countries could be even better than under Khan.”

This article also quotes Qian Feng as noting: “The latest political change in Pakistan is mainly caused by political party struggles and issues with the economy and people’s livelihoods,” adding that “due to the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, many people in the country believe that Khan’s administration has failed to stop the economic situation from worsening… In general, current internal problems in Pakistan have nothing to do with its solid ties with China, so there will not be a significant impact on China-Pakistan cooperation.  Khan is from a newly rising political party – the Pakistan Movement for Justice, and when traditional major political parties like the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) or the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) return to power, China-Pakistan cooperation could be even better because these traditional major parties have much closer and deeper ties with China.” 

“When [Shehbaz] Sharif [candidate for Prime Minister] was regional leader of the eastern province of the Punjab, he struck many BRI cooperation deals with China directly to improve local infrastructure and economic development, and his family have maintained long-standing ties with China as his brother Nawaz Sharif is a three-time former prime minister and the leader who kicked off the CPEC project,” the paper quoted unnamed experts as saying.

Neither article seeks to deny that the US is interfering in Pakistan and attempting to create discord both internally and in the country’s relations with China. However the newspaper quotes Rana Ali Qaisar Khan, executive member of the Central Standing Committee of the Pakistan National Party, one of the country’s historic left-wing parties, with its main base in Balochistan Province, as saying, “the US has always tried to influence many countries’ domestic affairs, including Pakistan’s, but its role should not be exaggerated and the current political situation in Pakistan is mainly caused by internal reasons.”

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Xi Jinping says China and South Africa are comrades and brothers, and affirms unbreakable friendship with Cambodia

Whilst international media coverage understandably focused on President Xi Jinping’s March 18 telephone conversation with US President Biden, the Chinese leader also held two other important conversations that day with leaders of countries that have particularly friendly relations with China. 

Speaking with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Xi said that their two countries “share a special friendly relationship of comrades and brothers”. This phrase is particularly significant – whilst it has been used several times by the Chinese leadership to describe their ties with South Africa, it is highly unusual, if not unique, for China to describe its state relations with a non-socialist country as embracing comradeship. In this context, it is worth noting that the friendship between the Communist Party of China and the African National Congress of South Africa date back to at least 1953, when Nelson Mandela sent ANC Secretary General Walter Sisulu to China to gain support for the steadily building anti-apartheid struggle, following Sisulu’s participation in the fourth World Festival of Youth and Students in Romania. China consistently supported the South African people’s struggle against apartheid and for national liberation.

President Xi further said that the relationship with South Africa is of great significance both for China/Africa relations as well as solidarity and cooperation among developing countries. The two leaders also exchanged views on the development of the BRICS grouping, which links Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and which China chairs this year. They noted that their two countries share a very close position on the conflict in Ukraine, standing for dialogue and negotiation. There have been a number of suggestions that South Africa could play an important role in this regard. Clearly alluding to the US pressures that both countries are facing, the two leaders agreed that sovereign countries are entitled to independently decide on their own positions.

The same day, President Xi also spoke with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, with a key focus being their bilateral Belt and Road Cooperation. Xi stressed that China would pay particular attention to developing roads and education in Cambodia’s rural areas so as to help develop agriculture and lift farmers out of poverty. Noting that next year will see the 65th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, President Xi said that their ties had become even more unbreakable whilst Prime Minister Hun Sen described the two countries as true ironclad brothers. Discussion also centred on the prospects for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), to which both belong, and relations between China and ASEAN, a ten-country bloc of South East Asian nations that Cambodia chairs this year.

China ready to move ties with South Africa to deeper level

Originally published in Xinhua.

China stands ready to work with South Africa to move their ties forward toward a deeper level with higher quality and broader scope, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday afternoon.

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Wang Wenbin: US theft of Afghan assets is no different from the conduct of bandits

Without the consent of the Afghan people, the US willfully disposes of assets that belong to the Afghan people, even keeping them as its own. This is no different from the conduct of bandits. This latest example has once again laid bare that the “rules-based order” the US claims to champion is not the kind of rules and order to defend the weak and uphold justice, but to maintain its own hegemony. As the culprit of the Afghan crisis, the US should not exacerbate the suffering of the Afghan people. It should unfreeze their assets, lift unilateral sanctions on Afghanistan as soon as possible, and assume its due responsibility to ease the humanitarian crisis in the country.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on February 15, 2022

Wang Yi’s Africa and Asia tour further debunks ‘debt trap’ conspiracy theory

This article by Stephen Ndegwa, first published in CGTN, discusses the ‘debt trap’ narrative in the context of Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent trip to several countries in Africa and Asia. Ndegwa notes that, although Western media and politicians often decry Chinese infrastructure loans as being exploitative, these accusations don’t stand up to scrutiny. Indeed, the debtor countries don’t share these criticisms and are highly appreciative of China’s support for their sovereign development.

One of the most popular rules of power says if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. Well, that could be so. But those who religiously apply this maxim, which purportedly emanated from Nazi Germany’s Joseph Goebbels, forget that it carries a rider. The lie can only be maintained for as long as the originator shields people from the truth.

This has been the case with the so-called debt trap, a phrase generally coined by Western countries that alleges that China ensnared developing countries with unserviceable debt to take over their national assets. China’s aim, so goes the lie, is to enable China to get a foothold in various strategic locations around the world.

Interestingly, even after the United States-led Western bloc’s warning that choices have consequences, China’s partners do not seem to be relenting in expanding and deepening their Sino cooperation. The stress-free partnership has given developing countries much-needed breathing space that has helped them make economic choices best suited to their needs, rather than experimenting with high-blown models that have no practicality.  

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‘The country that bombed you is your friend. The one that built your new railway is your enemy’

We are pleased to republish this article by Tom Fowdy, originally carried by RT. The author calls out the grotesque hypocrisy of imperialist criticism of China for having built a high speed railway to Vientiane, the capital of Socialist Laos – a small country on which the United States dropped more bombs than were dropped in the whole of World War II, killing some 10% of the population and making it the most bombed country in history. 

This is the Western media’s bizarre messaging to the people of Laos, a nation that was carpet bombed by America, and which is now being vilified for accepting a new $9 billion railway line paid for by China.

Thursday was National Day in Laos, a celebration marking 46 years since the landlocked Southeast Asian nation deposed its monarchy and became a revolutionary communist state, an effort which was supported by Vietnam.

This year, the anniversary had added significance, as it saw the opening of a major new project, an electrified high-speed and freight railway system connecting the capital city, Vientiane with its northern neighbour, China. 

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Bullet train for China-Laos railway arrives in Vientiane

We are pleased to republish this report in Xinhua marking the completion of a high-speed railway linking China and Laos. The railway is an example of China’s win-win approach to relations with foreign countries and its support for sovereign development.

The streamlined “China-standard” bullet train, or electric multiple unit (EMU) train, for the China-Laos railway arrived at the newly built China-Laos Railway Vientiane Station on Saturday.

The EMU train was officially delivered to the Laos-China Railway Co., Ltd., a joint venture based in the Lao capital Vientiane in charge of the railway’s construction and operation, at a handover ceremony held in the station with the attendance of Chinese Ambassador to Laos Jiang Zaidong and Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport Viengsavath Siphandone.

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CGTN video interviews regarding the situation in Afghanistan

Embedded below are two important video interviews conducted recently by CGTN regarding the situation in Afghanistan and China’s potential role in helping to construct a future of peace, stability and development in that country. Both interviewees make it clear that China is ready and willing to engage with the new government; China encourages the Taliban to govern in a tolerant, pluralistic and inclusive way, respecting the rights of women and of ethnic minorities; China encourages the Taliban to end its support for terrorist forces such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement; and China will work with the Afghan government and other countries in the region to support Afghanistan’s reconstruction.

The first interview is with Yue Xiaoyong, Special Envoy for Afghan Affairs, Chinese Foreign Ministry:

The second interview is with Senior Colonel Zhou Bo (retired), a senior fellow of the Centre for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University and former director of the Center for Security Cooperation at the Chinese Ministry of National Defense: