The Global Social Network
With 6,000 Pakistanis working on their PhDs in China, the two countries are enjoying rapid growth in scientific and technological collaboration, according to Journal Nature. Pakistan's scientific output is now growing at the fastest rate in the world. With nearly 3,000 papers jointly authored and published by Chinese and Pakistani researcher, China has now emerged as Pakistan's top partner in scientific collaborations, surpassing Saudi Arabia (about 1,500 papers) and the United States (about 1,200 papers) in 2018, according to an analysis of co-authored papers from Elsevier’s Scopus database. China is co-sponsoring a range of research centers in Pakistan that are studying topics from rice agriculture to artificial intelligence and railway engineering.
Pakistan-China ties are rapidly growing well beyond the economy and the military with tens of thousands of Chinese and Pakistani citizens regularly traveling between the two countries. More Pakistanis than ever are learning the Chinese language. China with its world class educational institutions is emerging as one of the top destinations for Pakistanis studying abroad. Currently, 6,156 Pakistani students are studying in Ph.D., 3,600 in Masters, 11,100 in Bachelors and 3,000 in Short Term Exchange Programs across China. Pakistan ranks third in the number of international students currently studying in China with 28,023 Pakistani students, according to a statement issued by China’s Ministry of Education. It is becoming a truly multi-dimensional relationship which will help Pakistan rise with China on the world stage.
Typical of the new Sinophile generation of Pakistani scientists is Dr. Iqbal Choudhary, director of the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences at the University of Karachi. Choudhary’s center is one of the oldest — it celebrated its 50th birthday just a few years ago — and largest institutes in Asia dedicated to the chemistry and biology of natural products.
Among the Belt Road Initiative member nations, Pakistan has emerged as the second strongest Chinese partner for science and technology collaboration in terms of Probabilistic Affinity Index (PAI), according to the Journal Nature. So far, China Academy of Sciences (CAS) has invested more than 1.8 billion yuan (almost US$268 million) in science and technology projects as part of the BRI.
CAS is supporting the Digital Belt and Road (Digital BRI), a platform for participating countries to share the data obtained as part of their collaborative projects with each other and with China. These data include satellite images as well as quantitative data on natural hazards, water resources and cultural heritage sites.
As part of Digital BRI/CPEC, an 820-kilometer long China-Pakistan fiber optic cable has already been laid between the city of Rawalpindi, Pakistan in the south and the Khunjerab Pass, China in the north and operational since July, 2018.
By 2020, the 6,299 kilometers of underwater cables will extend to Djibouti from Gwadar and form the Digital Silk Route between Asia and Africa. At the same time, a space-based Silk Road will provide satellite navigation support to all BRI countries. The first Beidou base station of the Space Silk Road is already operational in Pakistan since 2017. BeiDou is making rapid progress with 30 BRI countries already linked up.