A general view of the port before the inauguration of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor port in Gwadar, Pakistan, on Nov 13, 2016. (Agencies)
The all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between China and Pakistan will be strengthened with a firm commitment to building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, including the landmark Gwadar Port, according to a joint declaration released on Sunday.
The countries agreed to accelerate construction of the port and supporting projects, as the facility is key for cross-regional connectivity and a pillar of the economic corridor, it said.
The declaration focused on eight aspects, including strategic communications, the economic corridor, trade, investment and financial cooperation.
The countries reiterated that the Belt and Road Initiative is a win-win model for international cooperation and will provide new opportunities for economic development and prosperity. The corridor is on a fast track and plays a vital role in Belt and Road cooperation, the declaration said.
Both sides oppose negative reports on the economic corridor and will firmly guard its safety, the declaration said.
It added that Pakistan appreciates the contribution made by Chinese workers to economic projects in its territory, and that China extended gratitude to its South Asian partner for the security measures it now has in place to protect Chinese projects and workers in Pakistan.
Before the declaration, the two countries signed 16 agreements on Saturday to boost cooperation in scientific research, justice, poverty relief, healthcare and customs clearance. The signings were witnessed by Premier Li Keqiang and Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan.
In a meeting between the leaders, Li said substantial progress has been made in Belt and Road cooperation between the neighbors. Projects carried out for the economic corridor have been fully discussed, are in line with commercial principles and promise economic returns, he said.
China is willing to accelerate construction of the corridor with Pakistan on the basis of openness and transparency, Li said.
Khan said Pakistan sees the corridor as a major opportunity that has greatly contributed to the country's economic and social development. He said that Pakistan is resolute in pushing forward construction and protecting the safety of Chinese workers, and that it appreciates the strong support given by China during its hard times.
Pakistan is willing to learn from China's experience to boost its own reforms, he added.
Kong Xuanyou, vice-minister of foreign affairs, said at a briefing on Saturday that the number of projects related to the economic corridor will be increased, not cut.
"Pakistan reiterated that its relations with China are a cornerstone of its foreign policy, and it remains committed to the friendship between the two countries and advancing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor," Kong said.
The two sides had agreed to establish a strategic dialogue mechanism between foreign ministers to enhance overall planning and coordination, he said.
Kong said both nations will firmly move forward with the corridor, while ensuring the smooth operation of completed projects and advancing ongoing projects.
China and Pakistan will embrace industrial cooperation in the economic corridor and engage in overall collaboration to help improve people's lives in Pakistan, Kong said.
"China will continue to provide any assistance it can to Pakistan to help the country's economic development," he added.