Wen greeted with enthusiasm and hope by local media

By Li Xiaokun and Ai Yang (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-12-18 09:48
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Islamabad, Pakistan / Beijing - When Premier Wen Jiabao began his three-day visit to Pakistan on Friday, media in the South Asian country generally viewed his visit with enthusiasm and expectation.

"The visit will send a reassuring signal to Pakistan which is surrounded by a host of problems, challenges and difficulties," Riffat Hussain, head of department of defense and strategic studies of the Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press of Pakistan.

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The agency said frequent contacts between the two countries at the highest level speak of an "ever-growing relationship between the two sides" because China over the decades has emerged as a "trusted and reliable friend of Islamabad - always ready to help it when in need".

"Today China is in the best position to meet Pakistan's development and investment requirements having emerged as a global economic power and a role model for developing nations," Maleeha Lodhi, who served as an Islamabad envoy to London and Washington, told the Associated Press of Pakistan.

Wen flew to Pakistan from India after concluding a state visit there during which he signed deals worth $16 billion. Although media observers are generally keen to compare Wen's visits to New Delhi and Islamabad, and some are trying to pick a winner, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani showed appreciation for strengthened Sino-Indian ties and said Pakistan also welcomes a closer relationship with its neighbor India.

A Friday editorial in the Pakistani newspaper Daily Times said China's interactions with India over the years have shown that Beijing "has now adopted a more nuanced and balanced approach towards South Asia".

"Pakistan has little to worry about China's growing economic ties with India because Islamabad has full confidence in China's friendship and sees it as a factor for regional peace and security. It can also play a role as it has itself offered on occasion to resolve differences between Pakistan and India," Lodhi told the Associated Press of Pakistan.

Pakistan needs avenues of international cooperation and assistance "other than the US and the West". Pakistan already has a "considerable Chinese presence" in various mining, telecommunication, hydroelectric and other projects and "seeks to expand this cooperation into other areas".

Next year China and Pakistan will celebrate the 60th year of establishment of diplomatic relations. In 1951 Pakistan became the first Muslim country to build diplomatic ties with China.