Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan Sunday said that irrespective of the developments taking place at the international landscape, China will always stand by Pakistan’s core interests, adding that both the countries have made the right choice of being strategic partners based on equality and mutual benefit.“History is witness to Pakistan-China friendship which is deeply rooted in cultural, historical and friendly bonds between the peoples of the two countries. Pakistan is also the first country to acknowledge New China,” the Chinese dignitary said while addressing the Second Silk Road Forum organised by the ‘Friends of Silk Road Forum’. “China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners and CPEC has come a long way in further cementing this bond. I am confident that the CPEC will add new impetus to development in Pakistan besides furthering the regional development. I am happy to know that supporting CPEC is a consensus among all political parties and ethnic groups across Pakistan,” he said. Reiterating the China-Pakistan friendship bond, Wang said Pakistan and China stand by each other’s core interests and the spirit of the Silk Road binds the two countries together with a common heritage and history. He said despite challenges, the way forward is globalisation, free trade and people-to-people connectivity. He also appreciated the success of the CPEC and said the second phase of CPEC will bring even more benefits for both Pakistan and China.Addressing the forum, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi expressed the government’s commitment to further strengthen strategic partnership between Pakistan and China. He said both countries are observing 2019 as the year of mutual relations. He said CPEC has helped further strengthen the bilateral relations. “The CPEC has entered into its second phase which focuses on industrial, social and economic cooperation. I am confident that the special economic zones will pave way for the progress of Pakistan,” he said. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s successive visits to China have paved the way for a stronger collaboration with the government of China. He said the two countries are rendering joint efforts on poverty alleviation, anticorruption and development process. “Our government has special focus on poverty alleviation, industrial development, education, technology, scientific innovation and agricultural development. Both China and Pakistan countries have a common agenda of improving the living standard of their people,” he said, and hoped that the development target will be achieved by mutually harnessing the capabilities of the two countries.Qureshi also paid glowing tributes to Wang Qishan, saying the Chinese leader has played a key role in cementing China-Pakistan relations. “You’re a historian, remarkable economist and a great leader. You have played a key role in cementing Pakistan-China friendship. Pakistan and China are most reliable, trusted friends. Pakistan and China stand united in promoting a prosperous global society with a shared future for the mankind,” he added. Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, SAFRON Minister Shehryar Afridi, Ambassador Yao Jing, Deputy Speaker National Assembly Qasim Suri, Deputy Chief of Chinese Mission Zhao Lijian were also present on the occasion. Earlier in the day, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan was accorded a red carpet welcome as he arrived on a three-day visit from May 26-28.On his arrival at Nur Khan Airbase, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiar received the Chinese vice president. Clad in traditional dresses, two children presented bouquet to him.Vice President Wang Qishan is a member of 13th National People’s Congress of China and Central Foreign Affairs Commission, a key foreign affairs body of the Communist Party of China (CPC).Pakistan and China will sign MoUs/agreements and inaugurate projects to enhance bilateral cooperation in a broad range of areas during the Chinese dignitary’s visit.