No Pakistani leader has served a full, five-year term. Shehbaz Sharif’s replacing of Imran Khan after a no-confidence vote by parliament makes him the South Asian country’s 23rd prime minister until at least elections in August next year. Such turmoil would be perplexing for most foreign governments, but Beijing has cause for less concern. Relations between the neighbours are so entwined and important that they are above everyday politics. China and Pakistan have had good bilateral ties since the 1960s, with stable relations at the military, political and social levels. President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders have referred to the countries as “iron brothers”, while the Pakistani side speaks of the alliance as being “higher than the mountains, deeper than the seas and sweeter than honey”. There is a strategic element, both having a common rival in India, and China counting on its help to ensure regional stability and security. Pakistan relies heavily on Chinese investment and trade and in turn, it has a critical role in Beijing’s mammoth Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure project. The Pakistani leg of the initiative features the US$62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which ends at the port of Gwadar in the sometimes-restive southwestern province of Balochistan. Khan, during a four-day visit to Beijing in February, pledged to safeguard the project and push for its extension into neighbouring Afghanistan. But his removal from office is unlikely to alter circumstances, Sharif having supported the belt and road plan when he was chief minister of the country’s most populous province, Punjab, before Khan came to power in 2018. Pakistan power shift won’t affect ties with China, Beijing says His brother, Nawaz, who is in jail for corruption, and served a record three terms as premier, signed the country on to Beijing’s initiative. Pakistan is as strategically important to the United States as China. The Pakistani military, which is the country’s behind-the-scenes power-broker, takes a pragmatic position in relations with both nations. But Pakistanis from all walks of life know China’s importance to their nation and are only too aware of the need for healthy relations.