New Delhi: For the first time in close to 40 years, a Pakistani film is set to release in Chinese cinemas in November. This move comes just ahead of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of China and Pakistan’s diplomatic relations, established in May 1951. It also comes at a time when China’s relationship with India is at a low, due to border tensions.
The film, titled Parwaaz Hai Junoon, will hit the theatres on 13 November. A military action movie, starring Hamza Ali Abbasi, Ahad Raza Mir and Hania Aamir, it was released in Pakistan in 2018.
The date for its China premiere was announced a day after Chinese ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian appreciated Pakistan for its stance on Xinjiang, a province that has been in the spotlight for holding millions of Uyghur Muslims in detention centres. After a Chinese-sponsored visit to the province, Moeed Yusuf, Pakistani Prime Minister’s advisor on national security, had said that Islamabad had “absolutely zero concerns” about the province.
The China-Pakistan relationship
Directed by Haseeb Hassan, the film tells the story of young, patriotic cadets who emerge as Pakistan’s best fighter pilots. The film has been publicised as a “tribute to the Pakistan airforce”, and became the fifth-highest grossing Pakistani movie of all time.
The characters in the film dream of flying JF-17 fighter jets, which have been developed together by China and Pakistan. This jet is seen as an another option to America’s F-16 jet, which reportedly have been difficult to come by, given the deteriorating Pakistan-US ties.
Covell Meyskens, a historian of China in the National Security Affairs Department at the Naval Postgraduate School in California, emphasised importance of this fighter jets appearance in the film, saying, “There’s a few fetishised military objects, and one of them is definitely the fighter plane.” This technology is “one of the areas China wants to compete in; they’ve been partnering with Pakistan on this stuff for a long time,” he added.
The move to release the film in China comes as a relief to the Pakistani movie industry, which has been struggling to make ends meet given its ban on Indian films. With Pakistani films hitting Chinese screens, the industry now has access to a new, vast market.