Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 8, 2014. (Xinhua/Ding Lin)
BEIJING, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel next week to Pakistan for a state visit and to Indonesia for an Asian-African summit and activities commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference.
The April 20-24 trip, which will be Xi's first abroad in 2015, promises to mark a significant stroke of China's neighborhood diplomacy, particularly with the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives on the background.
It is set to help promote the all-weather friendship and all-dimensional cooperation between China and Pakistan, carry on the spirit of the Bandung Conference, and strengthen South-South cooperation.
CHINA-PAKISTAN: DEEPER FRIENDSHIP, BETTER COOPERATION
Xi's decision to choose Pakistan as the first stop shows the importance of China-Pakistan relations, as the South Asian country is a key neighbor as well as an all-weather strategic partner of China.
Since the establishment of their diplomatic ties 64 years ago, China and Pakistan have forged an ironclad friendship based on sincerity and mutual support.
The Chinese people have always regarded the Pakistani people as very reliable friends, and Pakistan has supported China on many issues concerning China's core interests and spared no efforts in helping the Chinese people and government when natural disasters occurred.
Moreover, Pakistan has lent China valuable help when the then newly-established republic sought to break through the blockade imposed by the West and when China wanted to reinstate its lawful seat in the UN Security Council.
Meanwhile, China has always been a staunch supporter of Pakistan's independence, territorial integrity and national dignity, and has provided selfless assistance for the South Asian country's socioeconomic development.
Just a few weeks ago, China's navy helped evacuate dozens of Pakistani citizens stranded in war-torn Yemen, a perfect example of the two countries' all-weather friendship.
As economic exchanges between the two sides are growing, with bilateral trade exceeding 16 billion U.S. dollars in 2014, people-to-people exchanges are also increasing, especially between their young generations. And the two sides have designated 2015 as the China-Pakistan Year of Friendly Exchanges.
Besides meetings with Pakistani leaders, Xi will also meet individuals and groups that have made contributions to the two countries' relations and give them the Friendship Award of "The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence."
China and Pakistan will sign deals on a wide range of issues, from energy and infrastructure to education and culture, which will inject fresh and powerful impetus into the deepening of China-Pakistan friendship and comprehensive collaboration.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have said that bilateral relations are the cornerstone of his country's foreign policy and that Pakistan is eagerly awaiting Xi's visit.
Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, said he believes that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will become a new flagship project and usher in a new phase of bilateral relations.
The CPEC, proposed during Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Pakistan in May 2013, will connect Kashgar in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region with Gwadar Port in Pakistan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping hosts the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting at the Yanqi Lake International Convention Center in the northern suburb of Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 11, 2014. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)
"BELT AND ROAD" FOR COMMON DEVELOPMENT
Asia and Africa, together making up nearly half of the world's landmass and 70 percent of the population, have enormous potential for development. The peace and development of Asia and Africa are key to the world's stability and prosperity.
Historically, the Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road were a network of trade and cultural-exchange routes connecting China with Central Asia, West Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Africa and Europe. Today, the Belt and Road initiatives China is promoting will help countries and regions along the routes carry out win-win cooperation.
Take China-South Asia cooperation as an example. The construction of the CPEC and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor will create better infrastructure conditions for all countries involved to pursue common development.
Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, executive director of Sri Lanka's Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies, said that thanks to the two corridors, which are conducive to expanding win-win cooperation and promoting regional interconnectivity, countries along the routes will be able to take a ride on China's economic growth.
The two corridors are also conducive to regional stability as they can help the countries concerned strengthen strategic mutual trust, the expert said.
Ramesh Chopra, a strategist and retired lieutenant general in the Indian army, said such projects as the two corridors have opened up new horizons for China-India cooperation.
A worker sets up the banner of 60th Asian-African Conference Commemoration Indonesia 2015 in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 13, 2015. (Xinhua/Agung Kuncahya B.)
PROMOTING SOUTH-SOUTH COOPERATION & UPHOLDING "BANDUNG SPIRIT"
Sixty years ago, the first Asia-Africa international conference was held in Bandung, Indonesia, opening up a new chapter for cooperation between the two continents.
Sixty years later, leaders from Asia and Africa will gather once again in Bandung to recall the historic moments and jointly map out a blueprint for the future of the two continents.
Over the 60 years, the "Bandung Spirit," featuring unity, friendship and cooperation, has been ingrained into international relations and multilateral cooperation, said Zhai Kun, a professor of international relations at Peking University.
The spirit has also been guiding countries in Asia and Africa in their steadfast march along a path of peace and friendship, Zhai said.
Li Zhuohui, chief editorial writer at Indonesia's Sinchew Daily, said the Belt and Road initiatives and the concept of a "community of common destiny" raised by China have not only carried forward the Bandung Spirit, but also offered a more specific guideline for cooperation among the developing countries in Asia and Africa.