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China tie is key to Pakistan's security and prosperity

Cooperation with Beijing represents a chance to forge regional peace

| Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan
Pakistan has handed over the development and management of the strategically important Gwadar port to China until 2059.   © Reuters

The relationship between Pakistan and China began 70 years ago. Since then, Islamabad has developed strong political, diplomatic and military ties with Beijing. Both claim the relationship has withstood the test of time, being "deeper than oceans and higher than mountains." Their mutual disputes with India have also brought them closer.

But people-to-people contacts and economic relations remain limited despite China's proximity and economic success. This is not only because of cultural and language barriers, but Pakistan's Western orientation when it comes to business and trade. Pakistan has also been distracted from developing closer economic ties with China as well as focusing on its own economic development due to its long-simmering dispute with India over Kashmir and internal political disorder that has made the state vulnerable to outside interference.

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