What the Mainland Media Say

'Iron Brothers' forging bonds of steel across Subcontinent

Media shower praise on the 'special' relationship between China and Pakistan as nations sign US$46 billion in deals

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 April, 2015, 2:17am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 April, 2015, 2:17am

Few bilateral relations between countries are as smooth as the one between China and Pakistan. They share a border stretching 523km but are strong neighbours with few territorial disputes.

At last week's summit, leaders from both nations said they wanted to raise the relationship to what is called an "all-weather strategic and cooperative partnership".

Before his touchdown for the visit, President Xi Jinping penned an op-ed, with the headline: "I feel as if I am going to visit the home of my own brother".

In response, his Pakistani host, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said the friendship was "higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, sweeter than honey, and stronger than steel".

No wonder major state-run media have been fully mobilised to trumpet the ties between the the two nations known as the "Iron Brothers".

"There is no upper limit to the 'solid' ties between China and Pakistan," said an editorial carried by the overseas edition of People's Daily, the ruling Communist Party's mouthpiece.

"From Xi to the average man on the street in China, Pakistan has never been just another neighbour," China Daily said.

"Few of China's partnerships with foreign countries have seen the degree of popular endorsement as that with Pakistan," it said in an editorial.

The agency ran infographics on its home page to explain what each of the four terms - "partnership", cooperative", strategic" and "all-weather" - meant for such special relations as China has never used all four together to define its ties with a foreign nation.

China has historically come to Pakistan's rescue with economic, political, military and nuclear assistance.

In return, Islamabad has been on China's side on the international stage on almost all regional and global issues. Islamabad played the instrumental role in ensuring Communist China's seat in the United Nations and facilitating US president Richard Nixon's historic 1972 visit to China.

While the partnership of the old days was founded on mutual disillusionment over India - a common foe - Beijing and Islamabad have moved towards one with more inspirational intentions. Their long-term strategic partnership is focused on ensuring stability on the subcontinent and protecting each other's interests. During Xi's visit, the two sides launched US$46 billion-worth of projects, aimed at developing the China Pakistan economic corridor.

While China, armed with the US$3.9 trillion in foreign reserves is under pressure to tackle overcapacity in industrial production sectors, such as steel, cement and heavy duty machinery, which Pakistan needs to strengthen its struggling economy and help end chronic power shortages.

The investment tie-up is part of China's aim to forge "Silk Road" land and sea links to markets in the Middle East and Europe. Beijing hopes to ramp up investment in Pakistan as part of its ambitions to expand its influence across Central and South Asia, while countering influences from major rivals - the US, Russia and Indian.

For both sides, the logic to improve ties from an already special bond makes plenty of sense. The real goal of the ambition is to transform the relationship from one that was once solely focused on geopolitics to one that combines both geopolitics and geo-economics and helps to maximise their respective national interests.

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