The extraordinary friendship between China and Pakistan is 69 years strong this year. Over the years, this friendship has led to ever closer cultural integration in the two countries as many Chinese started visiting Pakistan and Pakistanis have begun visiting China.
It goes without saying that the food of a nation is an important part of its culture. As such to learn about a country, be it China or Pakistan, means you must familiarise yourself with its culinary culture.
Over the years many authentic Chinese eateries have opened up in Pakistan. While this was initially to cater to the taste buds of the many Chinese working and living there, but now it is to fulfil locals' demand for authentic Chinese food.
Similarly, with the growing number of Pakistanis (especially students) in China, there has been an increase in the number of Pakistani restaurants in the country.
A team from the Global Times set out to check one of the more popular Pakistani restaurants in Beijing: Khan Baba. The team set out with a Pakistani who had some useful suggestions on what to eat and how to eat it.
Upon our arrival we were pleasantly surprised to see that the other customers did not just include Pakistani expats but also many Chinese and people from other countries as well. Our group spoke to some Chinese students there who said that their friend, a regular to the place, had recommended it to them. They said that they loved the food and would be returning very often.
Khan Baba has been operating in Beijing for 10 years now, attracting a diverse clientele by serving authentic Pakistani food cooked by a Pakistani chef. The manager said that he feels pride and happiness when he sees his Chinese customers enjoying their food and that they always give positive feedback after meals. He also said that they were currently working on a Chinese-Pakistani fusion menu, and were very keen on introducing it.
Over lunch we learned many things about Pakistani culture, such as how hosts always worry that guests are being too polite and so push them to eat more out of sheer concern and good intentions. In both cultures hospitality is strongly instilled, and guests are treated with a lot of respect and the best food the host can provide.
Chinese people are welcomed as friends in Pakistan not just as foreign visitors. We saw that in Khan Baba too.
It's true that in this age of globalization, China and Pakistan's cultural and economic relationship will grow further, but to attain the utmost success, people-to-people cooperation and cultural integration are a must.
Celebrating occasions like Chinese New Year or cultural integration through food culture provide tangible opportunities to further cement their friendship.
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