Kunfang Zheng & Yugang Fu
China has a wide territory and many bordering countries, including 14 land neighbors and 7 sea neighbors. It is the world’s second-largest economy and its third-largest country in terms of land area. China shares the same humanities, interests, and destiny as its neighboring countries, which are connected by rivers and mountains. China has always upheld the principles of “pro-sincerity and tolerance” and “goodwill and companionship with neighbors” in neighboring diplomacy.
It has also actively worked to strengthen ties with its neighbors, strengthen their friendship, mutual trust, and integration of interests, and create a community of destiny in the neighborhood. For instance, China’s significant neighbor Russia has been collaborating closely with both parties. Maintaining a strong China-Russia Comprehensive Strategic Collaborative Partnership in the New Era, the two nations are working together to strengthen their cooperation in international affairs, deepen their trade cooperation to achieve win-win outcomes and cooperate in higher education by working together to offer specializations and send international students to each other.
China and Russia have advanced the deeper development of their bilateral relations and consistently raised the bar for bilateral relations by stepping up their collaboration in several areas. Establishing mutual political trust, strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation, and fostering the long-term, healthy, and stable development of the Sino-Vietnamese comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership in the new era are all part of China and Vietnam’s policy of “long-term stability, future-oriented, good-neighborliness, and comprehensive cooperation” as traditional friendly neighbors. Furthermore, China maintains broad political, economic, and cultural interactions and collaborations with neighboring nations like Thailand, Laos, the Philippines, and Cambodia.
Pakistan, which borders Xinjiang and is situated in the southwest of China, is one of the numerous adjacent nations that must be highlighted. China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners and have forged a strong Sino-Pakistani friendship. Our friendship and mutual trust have stood the test of 70 years of international upheavals and changes, and we continue to stand steadfastly behind one another on matters about our shared basic values and pressing problems. China and Pakistan are considered “hardcore” brothers, and China has prioritized diplomatic relations with Pakistan. The Pakistani side stressed that both countries will keep adopting a long-term and strategic view on relations with China, work together to advance along the path of development, and quicken the process of constructing a more intimate China-Pakistan community of destiny in the coming years. Together, the two nations will work to establish a first-rate China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, advance the Belt and Road Initiative, and pave the way for a prosperous future marked by harmony, collaboration, development, and win-win circumstances.
China and Pakistan have extensive interactions and cooperation in several areas, with cooperation in education being one of the more significant ones. People’s livelihoods are based on their level of education, and cooperation in this area is crucial for international collaboration and exchange because it fosters interpersonal communication, offers a stage for the development of talent, and offers intellectual support for the economic development of the nations involved. Humanistic relations between China and Pakistan, two friendly and neighboring countries, have a long history. Education cooperation and exchanges between China and Pakistan have progressed through three stages since the two countries’ diplomatic relations were established: initial exploration, friendly exchanges, and growing cooperation.
A bilateral cultural agreement between China and Pakistan was formed in 1965, setting the groundwork for mutual collaboration between the two nations in the areas of culture and education. China-Pakistan collaboration has entered a deeper phase since the turn of the twenty-first century, and as the two nations’ mutual political trust has grown, so too has the nature of their cooperation in the fields of culture and education.
The “Joint Declaration on the Direction of Development of Sino-Pakistani Bilateral Cooperation,” which was jointly signed by the governments of China and Pakistan in 2003, calls for enhancing cooperation and exchange in the area of cultural exchange by arranging exhibitions, hosting exchanges between young people, and sending foreign students and visiting scholars. This has helped to fortify ties between the two countries.
The two nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Mutual Establishment of Cultural Centers in 2010 to establish cultural centers in Beijing, China’s capital, and Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, to engage in friendly cooperation and partnership while offering the general public high-quality cultural and educational programs and related resources. The China-Pakistan friendship has been strengthened and developed since the “Belt and Road” plan was introduced.
The two countries’ collaboration and educational exchanges have also continued to grow. A proposal to develop a “Belt and Road” education program was released in July 2016 by the Chinese Ministry of Education under the title “Promoting the Joint Construction of the “Belt and Road” Educational Action”. The “Promoting the Joint Construction of the “Belt and Road” Education Action” was released by the Chinese Ministry of Education in July 2016. It suggested building the “Belt and Road” education community and encouraged the growth of regional education. This furthered the promotion of China-Pakistan cooperation in education and strengthened humanistic exchanges between the two countries. Pakistani President Arif Alvi received an invitation to visit China in March 2020 from General Secretary Xi Jinping. To consistently foster heart-to-heart ties between the two countries, Confucius Institutes and increased collaboration between the universities of the two are important.
These days, the two sides are willing to work together to cooperate in education, share top-notch educational resources, learn from each other’s experiences in education, and accelerate the development of the education community, which has accomplished amazing things in recent years. This is made possible by the “Belt and Road” link. First of all, China and Pakistan have established cooperation in education connectivity. Both countries will deeply integrate the “Belt and Road” project and “Pakistan Vision 2025” into their respective educational systems.
The first step in this process is personnel training, which will help both countries produce a large number of highly skilled professionals. To encourage linguistic interchange between China and Pakistan, open majors in languages and establish Confucius Institutes. To actively promote Chinese language instruction and the spread of excellent Chinese culture, Pakistan’s National University of Modern Languages, the University of Karachi, and other colleges and universities have also opened Chinese language majors.
As a result, these institutions have grown to be crucial hubs for civil exchanges between China and Pakistan. Furthermore, bilateral agreements have been inked to remove barriers to collaboration and further the integration of standards for academic degree certification. An important turning point in bilateral education cooperation has been reached with the signing of the Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Academic Degrees, which has created new opportunities for collaboration in education between China and Pakistan.
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Second, the two parties have strengthened their collaboration in the development and training of talent. Pakistani students now consider China to be among their top study-abroad destinations, and the number of Pakistani students studying there is still growing. Regarding the number of Pakistani students studying in China as of 2019, Pakistan ranks among the top three countries globally in this regard. Pakistan now boasts a big pool of professional and technical talent as well as a large number of scientific research talents thanks to the Chinese government’s ongoing scholarship program.
In the meantime, it has actively promoted vocational education, and there has been a steady advancement in the collaboration between Chinese and Pakistani colleges and universities. We have attempted to meet the needs of numerous Chinese enterprises in Pakistan for technical talent who speak both Chinese and English through the cooperative construction of Luban workshops and the promotion of cooperative education.
We have also looked into new approaches for in-depth cooperation in education between the two nations. Chinese and Pakistani universities are a major force behind the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor because they are gradually conducting country studies on both sides, applying jointly for national scientific research fund projects of the two countries, and providing think-tank services through the mutual establishment of China-Pakistan Research Centers.
In the end, the two parties work together to construct the Silk Road cooperation mechanism. Following the announcement of the “Belt and Road” plan, China and the nations bordering it have actively worked to develop the Silk Road cooperation mechanism and have created a platform for global exchanges and collaboration in higher education.
To enhance the new meaning of education cooperation between the two countries, the governments of China and Pakistan have fully utilized the bilateral cooperation mechanism of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to support the formation of alliances between colleges and universities of the two nations that have a foundation for cooperation and similar professional backgrounds. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor University Alliance was jointly established in August 2017 by the Pakistan Higher Education Commission and the Chinese Society of Higher Education.
Chinese and Pakistani universities have conducted in-depth collaboration and interconnection with the support of their respective countries’ higher education authorities to foster talent innovation and academic research creativity, as well as to advance the building of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the global ” Belt and Road ” initiative.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor University Alliance exchange mechanism will have 116 member universities by 2023, including elite universities in both China and Pakistan. These universities will contribute intellectual capital and talent pools to help build the China-Pakistan Community of Destiny in the coming era.
Although the educational collaboration and exchange between China and Pakistan has yielded several positive outcomes, genuine progress still presents hurdles. Uncertainties including local political upheaval and security concerns affect the long-term viability of China-Brazil educational cooperation. China-Pakistan cooperation in education is confronting opportunities as well as problems.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has emerged as a striking representation of the two nations’ all-weather friendship, offering crucial assistance in their efforts to forge a closer China-Pakistan community of destiny in the coming years. Education serves as the foundation for both nations’ mutual trust and collaboration, as well as its link to achieve win-win scenarios and mutual benefits.
It also acts as a bridge to increase bilateral understanding and interactions. Cooperation in education has enhanced China’s and Pakistan’s human resources, developed individuals with global perspectives and competitiveness, and offered substantial backing for both countries’ economic development and social advancement.
In the course of their educational cooperation and exchange, China and Pakistan have benefited from each other’s rich histories and cultures, come to an understanding of the practical demands of socioeconomic development, and created a powerful synergy by bringing people’s wisdom and unity together to strengthen bilateral mutual trust.
*The author are scholars affiliated with the Institute of Law and Politics at Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, People’s Republic of China.
**The opinions in this article are the author’s own and may not represent the views of The Diplomatic Insight. The organization does not endorse or assume responsibility for the content.