SHANGHAI: The agreement signed by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as Foreign Minister in early 60s with China was a turning point in Islamabadâ€™s independent foreign policy and a manifestation of its faith in establishing deep rooted friendship with its now all-time ally China, said Ambassador Masood Khan.Addressing a seminar on Pakistan-China Relations at prestigious Fudan University here the other day, Ambassador Khan pointed out that the agreement signed in February 1963 in Beijing by then Pakistanâ€™s Foreign Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto symbolised Pakistanâ€™s independence in its foreign policy and its growing faith in Sino-Pakistan friendship.From this point onwards, Ambassador Khan said, the third phase of relations between our two nations began which was characterized by mutual confidence, deep trust, and growing cooperation.â€œThis period can be called a period of consolidation and expansion and it has continued up to this pointâ€, he observed.In May 1964, Premier Zhou Enlai, while speaking on Pakistan, said that in recent years the friendly and good neighbourly relations between China and Pakistan had developed greatly. Recalling his visit to Pakistan, he said: â€œwe found ourselves at all times living in an atmosphere of profound friendship, which the Pakistani people cherished for the Chinese people, and (we) were greatly moved by that.â€While reviewing with satisfaction Â the evolution of the relations in the past 60 years, he said the two sides highlighted four points in a joint statement issued in December 2010, they are: (1) It is important to deepen the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership; (2) China-Pakistan relations have gone beyond bilateral dimensions and acquired broader regional and international ramifications; (3) Friendship and cooperation between Pakistan and China serve the fundamental interests of the two countries, and contribute to peace, stability and development in the region and beyond; and (4) The two sides will enhance their strategic coordination, advance pragmatic cooperation, and work together to meet the challenges in pursuit of common development.â€œThis then in a nutshell is the status of the overall political and strategic ties between Pakistan and China,â€Ambassador Khan remarked.Let us go briefly into the history, Ambassador Khan said, adding that the scholars and students are familiar with recent history of Pakistan-China relations. But our relations go far back into history.It is obvious that the territories of Pakistan and China are joined by mountains and rivers, or the so-called geographical fault lines. But I would say that Pakistan and China also share civilizational fault lines.Monks and envoys traversed the daunting heights of the Karakorum, the Hindukush and the Himalayas to connect the Gandhara and the Indus Valley Civilizations with the Chinese Civilization, he remarked.Ambassador Khan held that Fa Xian and Xuan Zang, in the fourth and seventh centuries respectively, were not deterred by the inaccessible altitudes of these mountain ranges.Many scholars from the territory that constitutes Pakistan now travelled to China to understand and imbibe the glorious civilization of China,he observed.So, cross-fertilization of our civilizations took place much before the modern era, he noted.The founding of the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China in 1949 was a truly historic event. And so was the independence of Pakistan in 1947. Pakistan recognized China on January 4, 1950, and established diplomatic relations on May 21, 1951 following negotiations with Pakistanâ€™s first Charge dâ€™ Affaires who had arrived in Beijing in April 1951.The first Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan went to Karachi in September 1951 and Pakistanâ€™s first Ambassador to China arrived in Peking in November 1, 1951.He said that these are the beginnings that we shall celebrate this year after six decades. The year 2011 has been designated the â€œYear of China-Pakistan Friendship.â€Going back to history again, Ambassador Khan said that we can identify three periods in our relations. Because of the Cold War, the 1950s was a period of uncertainty in Pakistan-China relations, though efforts started right in the beginning for engagement. During the Bandung Conference in 1955, Premier Zhou Enlai and Prime Minister Mohammad Ali Bogra agreed to strengthen exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.On May 23, 1955 Chairman Mao Zedong, while talking to our Ambassador in Beijing,Mr. Sultanuddin Ahmed, expressed the hope that given goodwill between the two countries, relations would grow stronger and friendlier.In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the leadership of the two countries steered Pakistan-China relations towards closer understanding and solidarity. In 1961, Pakistan, voted for restoration of Chinaâ€™s seat in the United Nations. In 1963, China and Pakistan signed a boundary agreement.This was a very significant milestone as it underlined and displayed the emerging trust between the two neighbours.In the succeeding decades, Ambassador Khan said China and Pakistan have not only deepened their ties but stood by each other in difficult times.â€œChina helped us during the 1965 and 1971 wars. We advocated Chinaâ€™s entry into the UN. We also facilitated rapprochement between the US and China through quiet diplomacy. We have coordinated our policies during the turbulent period of the Afghan resistance against the Soviet Union in 1980s; and are now cooperating in the war against terrorism,â€ he observed.As we come to the recent history of Pakistan-China relations, he said we can draw satisfaction from the fact that the two sides have fashioned a very effective, practical, and flexible architecture for engagement and cooperation in strategic, defense, economic, commercial, and cultural fields.Pursuing friendship with China has therefore become the bedrock of Pakistanâ€™s foreign policy which enjoys consensus across the political spectrum, said Ambassador Khan adding that Pakistan deeply appreciates the support and assistance China has given for our economic and social development.We fully support Chinaâ€™s principled stand on Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, and other human rights issues.He said that Chinese Government and people reciprocate these sentiments and consider Pakistan to be their most reliable friend and partner. For China,developing relations with Pakistan figures high on its diplomatic agenda. China supports Pakistanâ€™s efforts in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.He further said that this bond between the two nations explains the longevity and resilience of their relations and their strategic trust.â€œThe fuel for this relationship comes from the hearts and minds of the people. The prudent, farsighted policies of their successive governments buttress it through multiple frameworks,â€ he noted.