Pakistan’s mega think tank and support group 101 Friends of China (FOC), which has been constituted to uplift the strategic cooperation between the people of China and Pakistan, recently undertook its maiden visit to China. 101 FOC was established under the Chairmanship of Zahid Malik, Chief Editor Pakistan Observer in 2014 as a unique think tank comprising retired bureaucrats, diplomats, senior armed forces officers, academics, journalists and members from all walks of life, who have the passion and urge to take the level of Sino-Pak exemplary friendship, fraternal ties and coordination to the next logical level of support and facilitation in their economic, commercial, industrial, energy, information, media, educational, and community uplift ventures.
The advent of the launch of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) and Maritime Silk Road (MSR) projects, added impetus to the raison-d’être of 101 FOC. This exceptional group is one of its kind, since its vision, mission statement and operational strategy are beyond merely holding seminars, get-togethers or symposia but propel its members to take action and endeavour to provide not just moral but physical and substantial support to enhance Sino-Pak relations. After registering itself as a viable body, the first task 101 FOC undertook was to take cognizance of the negative campaign launched by some misguided elements to sabotage the K-2, K-3 nuclear power plants being launched by China in Karachi by creating unfounded fear in the minds of the residents of the Metropolis regarding a possible leakage and meltdown of the 2200 KW nuclear power plants being envisaged.
The visit was a roaring success since the senior members of 101 FOC received undivided attention and have been propelled to carry the task of supporting Sino-Pak friendship. Meeting with Chinese think tanks, academics as well as professionals from the Foreign Office and technical organisations, provided insight into the areas where 101 FOC needs to concentrate to make it a viable organisation and play its due role in enhancing the rock solid China-Pak relations.
In its final engagement during the current trip, in response to the welcome address by Mr. Fu Jihong, Deputy Director General Foreign Office at an official lunch hosted by him in honour of the visiting delegates from 101 FOC at the Shanghai State Building, Zahid Malik, Chairman of the think tank, announced the result of Pakistan Observer’s country wide 45 days’ survey, on who should be declared the Statesman of the Year. The Chief Editor of Pakistan Observer informed that the daily had concluded by a majority of 84.3% respondents voting in favour of China’s President Xi Jinping as a role “Model Statesman of the Year 2015.
During the second phase of the visit, Dr. Chen Dongxiao, President of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, in a meeting with the Think Tank 101 Friends of China, endorsed and lauded the proposal by the visiting mega think tank members that a media corridor be established between China and Pakistan to bring the two nations closer. It was proposed by Zahid Malik that one of the major gaps regarding the true perception of both China and Pakistan is media presentation. Both countries are at the receiving end of international media, which may not be presenting factual information and analyses. The FOC also advocated the pooling of resources to take on the task of poverty alleviation.
The 101 Friends of China also held a candid discussion with Peng Keyu, Vice President of Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs over lunch hosted by him. The visitors met with Dr. Tang Mengsheng, Director of Center for Pakistan Studies at the Peking University. Speaking in impeccable Urdu, Dr. Tang reminisced about his long stay in Pakistan in the formative years of both countries and expressed the hope that the relationship will grow even stronger. Professor Duan Hui, Vice General Manager of China Zhongynuan Engineering Corporation (CNNC), called on Zahid Malik Chairman of the 101 Friends of China and members of Pakistan’s mega strategic think tank and support group and thanked them for their invaluable support in salvaging the K-2, K-3 projects.
The entourage was extended unprecedented protocol, warmth and hospitality during its stay in China. Its meeting at Beijing’s foreign Office with Xiao Qian, Ambassador for Asian Affairs of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was based on candid discussions focusing on various aspects of Pakistan China strategic relations CPEC. Ambassador Xiao Qian welcomed the 101 Friends of China, especially its facilitation desk to support visitors from both sides.
The support group has established a facilitation desk equipped with hotlines connecting various organs of the government in Pakistan and China, making it a one-window operation for assisting query seekers on Pak-China issues and cooperative models. 2015 being the year of Sino-Pak friendly visits, the Chinese Government invited senior members of 101 FOC to tour China and explain its functions and objectives to relevant Chinese organizations.
Sultan M Hali.
Author is PAF retired Officer & hosts TV Talk Show.