| Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf salutes as he walks past Chinese models during the Boao Forum in Hainan, southern China. (AP)
Beijing, Nov. 3 (Reuters): The leaders of China and Pakistan pledged to battle separatist Muslims campaigning for an independent Chinese homeland while inking economic deals aimed at boosting trade ties, state media said today.
In his first meeting with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf since taking power, Chinese President Hu Jintao said both nations must battle the “three forces” of extremism, ethnic separatism and terrorism, China’s Central Television (CCTV) said.
Hu also called on Pakistan and China to step up their fight against transnational crime and drug smuggling, it added.
Pakistan stood resolutely against terrorism and did not enable any anti-China forces — including ethnic Uighurs seeking independence for China’s northwestern Xinjiang region — to use Pakistan as a base, CCTV quoted Musharraf as saying.
China has said small numbers of separatist Muslims from Xinjiang have trained in al Qaida camps in Pakistan.
Musharraf’s visit comes on the heels of joint naval exercises between Pakistan and China, its main supplier of military hardware, off the coast of Shanghai late last month. Those exercises were China’s first with a foreign navy. China’s foreign ministry said the visit would help strengthen ties with Pakistan, a long-standing ally and friend.
“You are an old friend of the Chinese people, and for many years you have worked for the development of our friendship and cooperation,” Hu told Musharraf. The two countries also signed a string of economic agreements to bolster trade ties including one facilitating Pakistani mango exports to the booming China economy.
But no mention was made of a multi-million dollar agreement for Chinese help in building a nuclear power plant in Pakistan, expected to have been finalised following Musharraf’s tour to a southern Chinese island where he attended the Boao Forum for Asia. Energy experts say that the 300-megawatt nuclear power project, agreed in principle during a visit by Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali to Beijing in March, is estimated to cost $600 million and will take at least six years to complete. The US has repeatedly urged China to stop its nuclear cooperation with Pakistan, but both Beijing and Islamabad say they are not working together for military purposes.
Pakistan conducted five nuclear tests just weeks after India carried out three such tests in May 1998.