Ask anyone on the streets of Pakistan as to which country is Pakistan’s best ally, and the unanimous answer would be in the favor of China. Pakistan was one of the first groups of countries that recognized China on May 21, 1951. Since then, China and Pakistan have witnessed smooth development of friendly and neighborly relations as well as mutually beneficial cooperation. Although, initially the relations were not very warm due Pakistan’s alienation towards the West, it was during the Bandung Conference in 1955 that the prime ministers of both countries (Premier Zhou Enlai and Prime Minister M. Ali) decided to further strengthen their relations. In October 1956, at the invitation of the Chinese Government, Pakistani Prime Minister Suherwardi paid an official visit to China, reciprocated by China the same year when Premier Zhou Enlai visited Pakistan in December. This successful exchange of visits within one year greatly promoted the development of friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries and strengthened the friendship between the two peoples.
In 1961, by voting for the bill concerning the restoration of China’s legitimate rights in the UN put to the vote the UN General Assembly, the Pakistani Government took a step forward in the course of improving the Sino-Pakistani relations. In 1962, the two countries, through friendly talks, reached an agreement in principle on the position and alignment of Sino-Pakistani boundary. In March 1963, the two countries signed a boundary agreement on China’s Xinjiang and the adjacent areas whose defense was under the actual control of Pakistan. In February 1964, Premier Zhou Enlai visited Pakistan. The hallmark visit of President Ayub Khan to China in December 1964 opened a new era of friendship and long term partnership between the two countries. In March 1966, President Liu Shaoqi visited Pakistan. These two visits paved way for an everlasting friendship between these two great countries, which remains as strong and time tested even today. China fully supported Pakistan against India on Kashmir issue and backed Pakistan morally, militarily and economically whenever Pakistan called for help.
Pakistan also played an important part in breaking the thaw in Sino-US relations in 1971 when President Nixon went to China through Pakistan. Since 1990s, great changes have taken place in the international situation. Instead of being affected by the changing situation, the time-tested friendship and cooperation between China and Pakistan has further developed. China provided all manner of diplomatic and political support, including accepting Pakistan’s position of plebiscite over Kashmir. 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-Pakistani diplomatic relations and colorful celebrations were held in the two countries.