BEIJING - China aims to multiply defence and trade ties with Pakistan in the coming years, senior officials said here yesterday.

Top Chinese officials told The Nation that Beijing was determined to fulfil Islamabad’s needs for regional stability.

“China wants a strong Pakistan. We already have good economic and defence ties with Pakistan. We want the multiply the engagement to achieve new levels of friendship,” said one official.

Another official said top level contacts and meetings in the recent months had further strengthened the relationship between the ‘iron brothers.

Recently, Pakistan and China have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for enhancement of defence cooperation and capacity building of the Pakistan Army.

The MoU was signed during the visit of Central Military Commission Vice Chairman General Xu Qiliang with a high-level Chinese delegation to the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

General Xu Qiliang had a one-to-one meeting with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa followed by delegation level talks.

Later, Prime Minister Imran Khan and General Bajwa visited China to signs various MoUs.

Pakistan is one of the first groups of countries that have recognized China. On May 21, 1951, the two countries officially established their diplomatic relations. Since then, Pakistan and China have witnessed smooth development of friendly and neighborly relations as well as mutually beneficial cooperation.

The period between 1957 and 1069 saw a very important phase in the history of the Sino-Pakistani relations. During this period, historical changes took place in the bilateral relations.

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.

Since the early 1950, China and Pakistan have established trade relations and started trade transactions. In January 1963, they signed their first trade agreement. In October 1982, China-Pakistan Joint Committee of Economy, Trade and Technology was set up. With the joint efforts from both sides, Sino-Pakistani economic and trade cooperation has seen good progress. Especially since the 1990s, their bilateral trade volume has witnessed relatively fast growth.

Being always friendly to each other, China and Pakistan have also kept close contacts in the cultural field. Since the establishment of Sino-Pakistani diplomatic relations, the two countries have sent cultural delegations and groups and held exhibitions in the other.

In March 1965, the representatives from the Chinese and Pakistani governments signed the cultural agreement in Rawalpindi and for the first time inked the plan of annual cultural exchanges for implementation. There have been 9 such plans signed between the two countries.

Chinese officials said the visits of top leaders had set the stage for an ‘unbreakable partnership’ aimed at stabilising the region.

“The two countries also agree that the Kashmir issue should be resolved through a dialogue process. Peace is vital for the region,” said an official.