Mr Nong Rong, new Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan
On 5th November, 2020, Mr Yao Jing was re-assigned from the post of Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan to a position in Beijing. Mr Jing proved to be one of the most successful ambassadors to Pakistan. He served for almost three years. His tenure was marked with break-speed progress in CPEC and OBOR activities. The bi-lateral ties between the two nations are truly reaching the objective of “all-weather” relations. Even more significant is the appointment of the new ambassador Mr. Nong Rong. To begin with, Mr. Rong is not a Government diplomat but a respected Minister of the Guanxi province. Researchers and geo-political analysts are referring to this appointment as a rare occurrence, but one only has to look at the origins of Pak-China relations to comprehend this intelligent move by the Chinese Governments and the potential it has for the future of CPEC and OBOR.
Pakistan China relations began as soon as Communist party declared independence in Beijing. The remarkable change came with the appointment of General Geng Biao by none other than the great Chairman Mao Zedong. It was the ominous 1950s. Chairman Mao Zedong, foreseeing the events in Pakistan, assigned the task of Chinese ambassador to Pakistan to Geng Biao, transferring him from Sweden. General Ayub khan was the then President of Pakistan. General Geng was tasked with the responsibility to breathe a new life into Pak-China relations. General Geng like the present Mr. Nong Rong, was a political figure in the Chinese Communist party and the central committee. On his appointment, General Geng Biao revolutionized the relations between Pakistan and China. To this day, he is referred to as the architect of Pak-China ties. General Geng setup his office in Karachi. Just after a few months, he shifted his family to Pakistan. On his arrival, he brought with him the famous bamboo tree seeds from his home, the Hunan province in China. He planted those bamboo trees in the embassy and to this day, the bamboo trees have grown similar to Pakistan-China friendship.
General Geng biao observed the Government and people of Pakistan. After afew months of appointment, he returned to Beijing reported the potential of an iron brotherhood. He was a strategist and a military genius who had direct access to Mao Zedong. His reporting of Pakistan and relationship potential lead to the construction of the great KKH(Karakorum Highway). From an analytical point of view, CPEC and OBOR are the descendants of the Karakorum plan to connect China and Pakistan. Later on, General Geng Biao continued to strengthen the ties between Pakistan and China and opened new chapter of joint collaborations and co-operations. Later on, upon his promotion, General Geng Biao received Xi Jinping as his staff officer. It is a extra ordinary fact that the same Xi Jinping who served as a support officer to General Geng Biao, the architect of Pak-China relations, is now the President of People’s Republic of China and the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist party. And without a doubt, he has learned a lot from his former boss.
Mr. Nong Rong is the second ambassador after General Geng Biao who belongs to the political cadre of the communist party. He joined the Chinese communist party in 1987 and is a minister from the province of Guangxi. He has a degree in Business Administration and has held key positions in the Chinese Government related to International Trade, Commerce and Religious affairs. He is known to a visionary and his success stories are already echoing in Islamabad. HE is the 18th Chinese ambassador to Pakistan but only the second of his kind, that is, a member of the central Communist party. His appointment shows the commitment of the Chinese Communist Party to achieve new milestones in Pak-China Friendship. Diplomats are excellent but are in the end, career oriented. Mr. Jing, before Mr. Rong, achieved notable progress but his actions were mostly, a continuation of the previous strategies. Mr. Rong, as a political figure, a mayor of a Chinese city, would be expected to revolutionize and bring about new avenues of co-operation. From Chairman Mao to Xi Jinping, the single aspect that defines the political leadership in China, is their ability to innovate and give new shape to old ideas and that is what is the new ambassador is expected to do. The new ambassador has called on key figures in Pakistan like the President, Prime Minister, Chief of Army Staff and Finance Minister. The word that keeps being heard from the Minister is “model relations for the world”.
The year 2021 is an auspicious one. It will be the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Chinese Communist party and 70th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China. CPEC and OBOR are in full swing. The Lahore Orange Line Train is one of many early harvest projects of completed under CPEC. It’s a 27Km stretch with 25 stations, a joint collaboration between of Govt of Pakistan, Daewoo Company and Chinese Rail. Company Ltd. The Lahore Orange Line is set to serve around 150,000 citizens a month and the Line can be extended to cover many other key points of a city, a feat to behold for the people of Lahore. In the same intensity, Pakistan is now almost overcome its power shortage and numerous sectors are set to be invigorated by the dividends of CPEC initiatives. Mr. Long Dingbin the Consul General in Lahore is also pointing out key opportunities for collaboration between China and Pakistan in the region of Punjab. He will be a meaningful figure in the tenure of Mr. Nong Rong as he has previously worked with him in the Ministry for trade and commerce. A synergy can be expected.
Pakistan and China are committed to the formation of a model for bi-lateral relations for the world. In China, Pakistanis are perceived as “iron brothers” instead of diplomatically aligned countries. At times, the highest echelons of Chinese leadership have regarded Pakistan as China’s only International Ally. More so, the new ambassador vividly mentioned “Naya Pakistan” as the image that China shares for Pakistan. It is a reminder of deeply ingrained understanding of the Chinese leadership when it comes to domestic challenges in Pakistan. CPEC is entering its second phase. The appointment of Mr. Asim Bajwa has accredited stability and assurance to CPEC projects, despite the controversies. A new beginning is in the offing.
The year 2020 has been a backbreaker for world economies. Covi-19 has played havoc with the richest and the poorest of nations. China and Pakistan has achieved progress even in these troublesome and tumultuous times. The range of sectors where China and Pakistan are co-operating continue to assimilate new areas of interest. The Government of Pakistan is also in the process of working out detailed plans for the introduction of vaccinations and strategies to control Covid-19 with the Chinese Government. The brotherhood is delivering results in vital aspects of governance. Overall, the political appointment of ambassador to Pakistan in these hard times shows trust, commitment and visionary resolve. The people of Pakistan warmly welcome the new ambassador with new promises of forming an unbreakable bond between our two nations.
The writer is Chairman of Jinnah Rafi Foundation