Pakistani President Arif Alvi’s visit to China is aimed at reassuring the Chinese People that the Government and People of Pakistan firmly stand by them in combating the novel coronavirus, said the country’s top envoy in Beijing.

“President Alvi has decided to undertake a solidarity visit at this critical moment to express condolences to the bereaved families and to pay tribute to the courage and determination of the Chinese people for putting up a heroic fight against the epidemic,” Naghmana Hashmi, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China.

The Pakistani President is paying a two-day visit to China starting on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

Since the start of the outbreak, Pakistan has expressed unanimous support and solidarity for China’s efforts to combat the coronavirus.

In a phone conversation with President Xi Jinping in February, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan spoke highly of China’s resolute measures in dealing with the epidemic, saying that the whole world should appreciate China’s effective efforts.

Both houses of the Pakistani Parliament also passed resolutions expressing firm support and solidarity with the Chinese people and government.

According to the Foreign Ministry, as one of the first countries that provided medical protective assistance to China, Pakistan donated to China all of its inventory masks in hospitals nationwide.

“In this hour of crisis, Pakistan offered the utmost help and assistance to our Chinese brethren. Similarly, China, despite its national health crisis came forward to help and assist Pakistan with its locust emergency,” Hashmi said.

China delivered 50,000 litres of insecticide and 14 sprayers to Pakistan on March 9 to tackle the plague of locusts, together with a shipment of coronavirus testing kits.

Previously, a Chinese working group had visited many stricken areas in Pakistan, had in-depth exchanges with local authorities and proposed targeted and comprehensive solutions.

The Pakistani Ambassador said that the epidemic situation in China has immensely improved and the number of infections is minimising due to the effective measures the Chinese government has taken, which are now being recognised and replicated all around the world.

“These efforts were indicative of the importance China places, as a responsible major power, on matters of global concern and international cooperation and won international recognition,” Hashmi said, adding that the two countries are also further strengthening cooperation in health sectors to learn from China’s experiences.

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Despite the near-term drop in bilateral trade due to the epidemic, she said that there has been no suspension of trade flows and transportation linkages between Pakistan and China since the epidemic outbreak.

“It is satisfying to note that the Chinese economy has shown remarkable resilience during the entire crisis,” she said.

Hashmi noted that the ever-increasing economic and trade integration between Pakistan and China has made the two economies more interdependent, especially in the context of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship program under the Belt & Road Initiative.

As the protocol of the second phase of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement came into effect this year, the Ambassador said the protocol would facilitate enhanced and sustainable growth in trade relations between the two countries for mutual benefit and help tackle Pakistan’s trade deficit in the coming decades.

According to the Ambassador, while the ancient Silk Road enabled the flow of goods, people, ideas and knowledge between the two countries for millennia, enhanced connectivity is bringing the two peoples closer.

“I believe that there are immense opportunities for further deepening our bilateral cooperation for a shared and prosperous future,” she said.