China said on Thursday that it will continue to accord priority to Pakistan in its neighbourhood diplomacy and reinforce iron-clad' ties as the all-weather allies celebrated the 69th year of the establishment of their diplomatic relations.
Pakistan recognised China in 1951, a year after India established diplomatic ties with Beijing. India became the first non-Communist country in Asia in 1950 to establish diplomatic relations with China.
Though a late entrant, Pakistan, an Islamic republic, has emerged as Communist China's closest ally and the two countries in recent years firmed up their all-weather alliance with USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the biggest overseas investment by Beijing.
"Today marks the 69th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between China and Pakistan. I offer congratulations,Foreign Ministry spokesman told a media briefing here on Thursday.
Zhao, who worked earlier as China's Deputy Ambassador to Islamabad, had a personal note of praise for his stint in Pakistan. "I had the pleasure of working in Pakistan. Before leaving the country, I said that Pakistan stole my heart. I believe it shows the deep-rooted friendship between the two countries, he said.
"In future, we have every confidence in the development of bilateral relations. We will continue to put Pakistan a priority in our neighbourhood diplomacy and work together for high-quality CPEC development, Zhao said.
India had protested to China over the CPEC as it traversed through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK). "We are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. In the past 69 years, this relationship has stood the test of the changing international landscape, and has remained firm as a rock, he said.