Pak-China friendship can be traced back to 1949, when Pakistan recognized China as an independent, sovereign state. In the early recognition of China’s independence, Pakistan refused to acknowledge the Taiwanese government, hence it laid the foundation for ties with China.
In 1956, Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-Lai visited Pakistan at a time when Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy was the latter country’s premier. Five years later, in 1964, Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-Lai visited Pakistan during General Ayub Khan’s era.
In 1984, Chinese President Li Xiannian came on an official visit to Pakistan when the country was being governed by military dictator Zia-ul-Haq.
In 1989, when the newly elected and first female Muslim Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s democratic era had just commenced, Chinese PM Li Peng came to Pakistan.
Chinese President Yang Shangkun visited Pakistan in 1991 in a bid to foster and strengthen ties between Pakistan and China. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif received the Chinese President in his first ever tenure as Pakistan’s PM.
In 1996, Chinese President Liu Shaoqi paid Pakistan a visit in order to cement the budding friendship between Pakistan and China.
Later in the same year, Chinese President Jian Zemin came to Pakistan when Benazir Bhutto was the ruling Prime Minister of Pakistan, during her second term.
In 2001, Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji granted Pakistan the honor of hosting him, during General Pervez Musharraf’s era.
Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Pakistan in 2006.
Just two years back in 2013, Prime Minister Li Keqiang called on his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari on his visit to Pakistan.
Xi Jinping, China’s current President, has undertaken an official trip this year. Pakistan’s administration is currently being led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in his third tenure as PM. The importance of the Chinese Head of State to Pakistan cannot be understated as major defense and economic discussions between the two states have been underway.
Benefits that Chinese Heads of States’ visits have provided for Pakistan
In 1966, China provided Pakistan with military equipment as proof of its strong friendship with Pakistan. After the 1971 Indo-Pak war, in 1972 China held a strategic pact with Pakistan. In 1989 China started aiding Pakistan economically and the Islamic Republic in turn supported its ally by backing China at international forums, whenever China faced opposition on issues such as Ladakh, Taiwan and Tibet.
As per opinions voiced by experts, the establishment of an energy corridor stretching from China’s Xinjiang province till Pakistan’s Gwadar, will help in stabilizing Pakistan’s economy considerably. Important projects in which both countries are involved are the oil and gas, fiber optics and Karakorum Highway.
Pakistan and China’s trade is worth $12 billion. In Pakistan, over 130 Chinese companies operate with more than 12,000 employees who are Chinese citizens.
As far as defense cooperation between the two states are concerned, Al-Khalid tanks, JF thunder fighter jets and mutual cooperation in regards of missile, nuclear technology are proof of the longstanding Pak-China friendship.