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Posted On : 16 Mar, 2017  Source : PTI  Place : Beijing 
Pak Army chief on 1st visit to China, meets top leaders
China's top leadership has assured Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa that they completely understood the geo-political, economic and security situation in the region and its implications for the two "all- weather" friends, the Pakistan Army said today.

The assurance was given to Gen. Bajwa as he met senior Chinese leaders and the military leadership on his maiden visit to Beijing where he discussed a range of issues, including defence cooperation, regional security situation and the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said.

"COAS arrived in China on a 3-day official visit. Meets Chinese senior political & military leadership. Pak-China friendship is unique with no parallel," Ghafoor tweeted.

Bajwa called on Chinese Executive Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Gen Fan Changlong, Chief of Joint Services Department, Gen Fang Fenghui and Commander of the People's Liberation Army Gen Li Zhuocheng and discussed topics like regional security, economy defence cooperation and other issues of mutual interest.

"The Chinese leadership expressed complete understanding of the geo-political and economic-cum-security environment of the region and its implications for both the countries," a statement issued by the Pakistani military said.

"They acknowledged the positive role being played by Pakistan towards peace and stability in the region with special mention of Pakistan's role in eliminating terrorist groups including Al Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) from Pakistan," it said.

The ETIM is an Islamic extremist separatist organisation founded by Uyghur jihadists in western China. It has training camps in Pakistan and Beijing has been pressing Islamabad to destroy the units operating in the country, posing a threat to the stability of China's restive region of Xinjiang.

During the meetings, the Chinese leadership also expressed their concern on the security situation in Afghanistan and the growing potential threat of Islamic State and ETIM in that country, the statement said.

"The Chinese leadership expressed their confidence in security arrangements for the USD 46 billion CPEC and satisfaction on progress made on the project, it said.

During the meeting between Vice Premier Zhang and Gen Bajwa, the two sides agreed to advance the CPEC project, China's state run Xinhua news agency reported.

Zhang lauded the rapid development of China-Pakistan ties, saying bilateral cooperation not only benefits the two peoples, but also contributes to regional peace and stability.

He called on the two sides to maintain close high-level contact and strengthen coordination on international and regional affairs, to lift bilateral ties to new heights.

Zhang also suggested that the two countries should enhance defence and security cooperation and push forward the building of the CPEC in an orderly manner, the report said.

Gen. Bajwa said Pakistan views the relations with China as the cornerstone of its foreign policy and its army will always be a staunch supporter of bilateral friendship.

To ensure the smooth construction of the CPEC, the Pakistan armed forces will resolutely safeguard its security, he said.

Masood Khalid, Pakistani Ambassador to China has been quoted by the official media here as saying recently that the Pakistan "has done everything" to ensure the safety about 19,000 Chinese working on different projects in the country.

Pakistan has deployed more than 15,000 troops to protect the CPEC, and the country's navy has raised a special contingent for the protection of the strategic Gwadar Port.

The Chinese military has also announced plans to increase marine corps from 20,000 to one lakh, some whom will be deployed in Gwadar which connects CPEC with China's Xinjiang province being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

During the meetings, Gen Bajwa thanked the Chinese leadership for the support Pakistan has received in the defence sector which is a "source of strength" for the unique "all weather" friendship between the two countries, the ISPR statement said.

Gen Bajwa "reiterated that Pakistan Army shall continue to positively contribute towards regional stability and security" and also thanked the Chinese military for sending a PLA contingent for participation in Pakistan Day Parade on March 23 in Rawalpindi.

"Both sides agreed to continue and further increase their military-to-military cooperation," the statement said.