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Pakistan says Zàijiàn to Chinese envoy Lijian Zhao

Chinese, Pakistani friends pay tributes to outgoing Chinese diplomat



  • New DCM Ms Pang says she will pick up thread where Zhao left

ISLAMABAD – A farewell reception was held at a local hotel on Thursday to pay tributes to Chinese Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) and Minister Consular Lijian Zhao. A galaxy of people from all walks of life gathered to say Zàijiàn (goodbye) to Zhao. Federal Ministers, Secretaries, politicians, officials, scholars, media, etc. attended the reception. Zhao also introduced Ms. Pang Chunxue, who is going to replace him as new DCM and Minister Consular of the Chinese Embassy.

Over the past four years, Zhao has proved to be one of the most active, vocal and dynamic diplomats from the Chinese Embassy. His four-year tenure has come to an end. Zhao had served from 1999 to 2013 in Islamabad. Altogether, he served eight and a half years in Pakistan. He became the first Chinese diplomat in Islamabad who effectively used social media site Twitter to explain things about China, Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects and Pak-China relations and became a household name in Pakistan.

Lijian Zhao, a diplomat par excellence, was initially tasked to oversee and push the implementation of China’s strategic initiative of CPEC – a multibillion dollar project that brought a new specter of foreign investment in Pakistan. Lijian Zhao not only pushed the CPEC implementation but also defended China’s core interests at official forums, print and social media.

Whether it was dealing with the bureaucratic hurdles, implementation bottlenecks or issues cropping up due to change in the government in Islamabad, Ambassador Yao Jing and Lijian Zhao were always active to help resolve the issues.

Under guidance of Ambassador Yao Jing, Lijian Zhao formed Beijing’s dream team ever in Islamabad to pursue China’s interests. His media team included Political Consular Jiang Han, Director Political and Press Affairs Ms Bao Zhong and Press Attaché Yang Ming. In wake of negative media targeting CPEC, Zhao single-handedly focused on social media and teamed up with young Pakistani students and volunteers to defend and promote CPEC and Sino-Pakistan friendship.

Lijian Zhao took office soon after President Xi Jinping inaugurated CPEC in year 2015. Since then, Zhao made his presence felt by all and sundry. Unlike traditional Chinese diplomats, Lijian Zhao used social media not only to protect the Chinese interests but also to clarify facts to counter the negative propaganda about CPEC.

Unlike other diplomats, Zhao effectively used Twitter, to further the Chinese position on issues like CPEC, Xinjiang, South China Sea, Hong Kong, etc. Though he signed up to Twitter back in May 2010, Zhao began to be active about one year after he arrived in Pakistan. He has effectively employed Twiplomacy (using Twitter for diplomacy) by attracted 198,000 followers. In less than 3 years, Zhao has made over 50,000 tweets and retweets, and liked 100,000 tweets. He has become China’s most active diplomat on an overseas social media and successfully used Twitter to counter anti-China narrative.

Zhao has led from the front to effectively counter anti-China propaganda on print and electronic media in Pakistan and the world. Whether it was western route controversy or equating CPEC with ‘East India Company’, Lijian Zhao effectively nailed the negative jargon well.

Another issue which cropped up recently was the ‘Chinese Debt Trap’ hoopla aimed at harming the CPEC, but Ambassador Yao Jing and Lijian Zhao pinned it down by bringing facts through mainstream and social media. The latest case was the Xinjiang issue which time and again props up through western media but Chinese embassy has skillfully defended it too.

Over the years, Lijian Zhao has galvanised thousands of young Pakistani Twitter users who joined forces with him to further Pakistan, China friendship. Zhao recently tweeted that his posting to Islamabad is coming to an end, which triggered thousands of messages to his Twitter feed, full of praise for China’s iron-brother relationship with Pakistan and the country’s Belt and Road Initiative.

“I will miss Pakistan forever, as this is my second home,” he tweeted. “I think Pakistan is the best posting for Chinese diplomats.”

Zhao’s Twitter feed has been full of warm wishes from mostly Pakistan-based users, with some tweets including pictures of a farewell dinner for him.

“You are a great friend of Pakistan and were an important member of the team that successfully steered Phase 1 of CPEC,” Ahsan Iqbal, the former minister for planning, development and reforms of Pakistan, tweeted.

Talking to DiploMag on the eve of the farewell ceremony, Zhao Lijian said that in past four years, he has found new comrades among Pakistani youngsters who have become new friends of China and Pakistan. He said the past four years were most fruitful in Pakistan, China relations as President Xi, Premier Li Keqiang and other high level visits took place and the Pakistan, China transformed into a vibrant relationship.

“In past four years, we witnessed transformation in bilateral ties as we have been able to push the CPEC forward. We have completed first energy plant with local coal while Multan-Sukkhur highway project also was completed. Media, scholars also helped to take CPEC forward and I found out that 99 percent Pakistanis support China, Pakistan relationship and the CPEC,” he added.

The new DCM Ms. Pang Chunxue said that it’s an honour for her to serve in Pakistan as its her second home.

Ms Pang has a unique service record and served in Pakistan from 1998 to 2000. She also served as DCM in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Hence, Ms Pang is well versed with the job at hand. Addressing the audience, New DCM Ms Pang said she will pick up thread where Zhao left. Though Zhao is departing for Beijing headquarters, it’s heartening to note that he is leaving behind a legacy of CPEC and Twitter diplomacy and is being replaced by another friend of Pakistan.

Paying tributes, Mushahid Hussain Sayed said Zhao Lijian has done a great service to China, Pakistan relations. “We together will ensure that CPEC is promoted and protected,” he added. Former Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal specially came to say goodbye to Zhao Lijian.



Xi Jinping declares China a moderately prosperous society in all respects




BEIJING, July 1 (Xinhua) — Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, announced on Thursday that China has realized its first centenary goal — building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

The achievement marks a key milestone for the world’s most populous country on its journey toward national rejuvenation.

“This means that we have brought about a historic resolution to the problem of absolute poverty in China, and we are now marching in confident strides toward the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects,” said Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, at a ceremony marking the CPC centenary at Tian’anmen Square.

The achieving of moderate prosperity, or Xiaokang in Chinese, is measured in consideration of multiple aspects such as the economy, democracy, science and education, culture, society and people’s lives. The requirements include doubling the country’s 2010 GDP and per capita disposable income by 2020.

Last year, the country’s GDP exceeded 100 trillion yuan (about 15.45 trillion U.S. dollars). Its per capita disposable income hit 32,189 yuan, double the level in 2010. The country has developed the world’s largest social security system and boasts the world’s biggest middle-income group — 400 million people. In a historic feat, China has eliminated absolute poverty.

Poverty relief assistants Liu Ying (1st L) and He Changle (2nd L), and village officials help carry melons planted by villagers in Dongqin Village, Congjiang County of southwest China’s Guizhou Province, Nov. 11, 2020. (Xinhua/Yang Wenbin)

Xiaokang is a phrase about well-off life first mentioned in the Book of Songs, China’s first anthology of poems dating back more than 2,000 years. An idea cherished by the Chinese people for thousands of years has become a reality in today’s China.

Late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping once used Xiaokang to describe Chinese modernization, and first proposed building a Xiaokang society. The 12th National Congress of the CPC in 1982 set the achievement of Xiaokang as a goal. Later, Xiaokang was included in the country’s three-step strategic plan for economic development.

The country realized Xiaokang on the whole at the end of the 20th century. In 2002, the CPC put forward the aim of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. The 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012 set the goal of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020. The standards of and requirements for Xiaokang became increasingly comprehensive and strict.

The CPC stressed that no one should be left behind on the path to a Xiaokang society. In the past eight years, China focused on areas of extreme poverty, and lifted the final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents out of poverty by the end of 2020.

Over the past 40-plus years, the country has lifted 770 million people out of poverty, meeting the poverty eradication target in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule, and resolving its greatest challenge in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

Li Weiyun, from Xiuyun Village of Cangxi County, southwest China’s Sichuan Province, has keenly felt the changes in his village. With the development of eco-agriculture, many villagers have moved into multistory homes and purchased cars.

“Now a good life has been achieved at home,” he said. He brought in an income of 200,000 yuan this year by growing peaches.

“It is a tremendous contribution to the world that 1.4 billion people are living a Xiaokang life,” said Liu Endong, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.

Such a feat has become a reality only under the leadership of the CPC, which “puts the people first, has strong execution capabilities, and upholds socialism with Chinese characteristics,” he said.

“China’s success in achieving Xiaokang has made important contributions toward the Sustainable Development Goals and provides valuable lessons for other countries in the global fight against poverty,” said Beate Trankmann, resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme in China.

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Global communication event ‘Daka China – Jinhua, A Golden Hub of BRI’ to start on June 6




ISLAMABAD – A global communication event for the international community to better approach the cooperative spirit of the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) and the significance of East China’s Zhejiang Province to the BRI and globalisation will be held from 6th to 7th June in Jinhua, the most important node of Zhejiang stretching out towards the BRI.

The theme of the event is “Jinhua, A Global Hub of BRI”, showcasing the vital position of Jinhua to the scenario of BRI as well as Zhejiang’s active engagement in promoting globalisation and cross-cultural communication in an all-round manner.

The event will bring together nearly 100 journalists, government information officers, and social media influencers from countries along the BRI. It will be the 2nd grand event in the series of the brand new “Daka China” Global Communication Event, a flagship global communication project by Zhejiang Daily Media Convergence Technology Co., Ltd., one of China’s leading companies focusing on media convergence and digitisation.

The opening ceremony will include a series of keynote speeches delivered by social media influencers and government information officers from Jinhua City and Zhejiang Province. They will comment on the attractions of n Zhejiang, and Jinhua in particular, as well as on the future of international communication.

After the opening ceremony, all the attendees of the event will take a group tour around inside the Jinhua City and visit a few well-known scenic spots, including the Hengdian World Studios (the world’s largest film & TV base), Yiwu International Trade City (the world’s largest wholesale market). They will also experienced a few Jinhua’s authentic folk cultures such as the Wu opera, a traditional folk opera of Jinhua City.

In the break-out sessions, participants will have the opportunity to network and share their experiences of living and travelling in Zhejiang and Jinhua.

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China says ready to help India, other S Asian countries fighting COVID-19




Virus origin probes should be left to scientists to investigate, not US intelligence agencies, says CPAFFC President

BEIJING, China – China has the willingness, capacity and resources to help India and other South Asian countries that are grappling with the new wave of COVID-19 cases, said the president of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC).

When India became engulfed in the second wave of COVID-19 cases and faced a severe shortage of medical resources such as protective suits, the CPAFFC expressed its willingness to help the Indian government, Lin Songtian, president of the organisation, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

“As long as [India] asks, we will offer full support,” said Lin, noting that as  India’s most important neighbour, China has the willingness, capacity and resources to help Indian people overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met virtually with his counterparts from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on Tuesday to discuss efforts to fight against COVID-19 and seek post-pandemic economic recovery.

The foreign ministers attending the online meeting reached an agreement to build China-South Asia emergency reserves.

Lin said that the CPAFFC is actively negotiating with local governments and institutes with which it has ties to collect anti-pandemic resources such as masks, protective suits, ventilators and other items to help India, as well as other South Asian countries.

Lin made the remarks to the Global Times while he was attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Forum on People-to-people Friendship, which is being held in Wuhan, Hubei Province from Wednesday to Friday.

Lin refuted recent smears against the Wuhan Institute of Virology from the US, after US President Joe Biden demanded that US intelligence agencies confirm in 90 days if the coronavirus emerged from a laboratory, sparking an uproar in the international community.

Virus origin probes should be left to scientists to investigate, not US intelligence agencies, said Lin, noting that the US’ moves are not scientific, and they serve the country’s aim of politicising as well as stigmatising the virus.

Lin said that choosing Wuhan to host the SCO’s first people-to-people exchange forum is aimed at sending a signal of gratitude to international friends who helped Wuhan and China combat the pandemic, boosting the morale of people who are still grappling with the pandemic, and sending out China’s friendly voice to the international community about building a community with a shared future for mankind, to cope with the major changes of the century.

Lin said that international relations should be led by both high-level government officials as well as people-to-people exchanges, which can boost mutual understanding and friendship between Chinese and people from other countries.

He also prioritised pushing forward people-to-people exchanges between China and the US. He said that over the past year, he had 22 online and in-person communications with Americans from all walks of life, including local governments of sister cities, research institutes, business circles and the media.

Lin said that in the course of those communications, he experienced a China-US relationship that is totally different from that which Western media have described.

“First, we share the same idea that both Chinese and Americans desire world peace. Second, the two countries’ companies and research institutes are looking forward to development, and third, the two countries can benefit from each other.”

But at the same time, the US government has been politicising its China policies by painting China as its biggest rival, which has been reflected in Washington’s decision to close Confucius Institutes and tighten visa approvals for Chinese students. US politics has poisoned public opinion, and public opinion has been kidnapped by politics, said Lin, noting that US politicians can now only win votes by waving the anti-China flag.

Against this backdrop, and with people-to-people exchanges cut off by the pandemic, the US government has been using the media to fabricate rumours about China and point fingers at Beijing, said Lin.

He believed that as an organisation that advocates friendly exchanges between people, it is important to let more people see the truth about China.

“First, it is important to invite Westerners to witness China’s development. Then, we can encourage foreigners in China to spread the truth about China to the outside world,” said Lin, noting that “the CPAFFC will organise foreigners in China to visit more places in this country, to form a deep understanding and to understand China, and through them, to demonstrate a real, dimensional China to the outside world.”

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