CONTEXT

  • China on 20th June tried to pull a block on Jaise-E-Mohammad (JeM) leader MassodAzhar UN ban.
  • Their disagreement continued to grow on terrorism on this particular issue.
  • Foreign Ministry spokesman GengShuang’s clarifies that Azhar issue is ahead of its review by the 1267 Committee of the UN next month.

SIGNIFICANCE

  • Last year China had put technical holds on India’s application to designate Azhar as a terrorist.
  • This year also India moved similar kind of proposal to designate Azhar as a terrorist and put him on a banned list of UN.
  • But again China has blocked the proposal, which proves the increasing closeness in the relationship of China and Pakistan

Why such step by China?

  • China and Pakistan are allies, and with CPEC on cards, China is trying to pull their power.
  • China is getting uncomfortable with India’s closeness with US, the high water mark of which was the 2008 civil nuclear deal, has been variously debated and discussed as moves by the US to find a counterweight to China in Asia. These moves have fueled Chinese suspicions and needling India using Masood Azhar could be one way of keeping India on tenterhooks.
  • Pakistan’s support for China within groupings like the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and others like the Non-Aligned Movement where China has no representation could be another reason for Beijing extending support to Pakistan through the UNSC, where it is a powerful veto-wielding member

China – Pakistan relations

  • ‘Higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, sweeter than honey.’, this is how China and Pakistan describe their relationship.
  • With China-Pakistan Economic Corridor coming in the light adds, ‘stronger than steel.’
  • China and Pakistan have shared their geo-political and strategic interest for almost seven decades.
  • Pakistan-China is the only bilateral relationship, other than with Saudi Arabia perhaps, in which Pakistan is happy to play the junior partner. Islamabad, which is wont to cast ties with China emotionally, describes the friendship as one that has no parallel in the world.
  • Pakistan being one of the earliest non-communist countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China. They established diplomatic relations in 1951 and did not have a perfect starting as Pakistan was member of two US led anti-communist military pacts, SEATO AND CENTO.
  • India’s defeat at 1962 war of India- China paved the way for China Pakistan’s friendship
  • If Beijing had by then identified Pakistan as a country through which it could contain India, home since 1959 to the “splittist” Dalai Lama, China’s tacit support for Pakistan in the 1965 war was a turning point — the beginning of their enduring defence and, some would say, nuclear, cooperation.
  • Their relation reached its peak with China acknowledging assistance to Pakistan in building 6 nuclear reactors.
  • At Chashma, they were declared at the time it joined the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group in 2004, and
  • China was allowed to “grandfather” them as part of an agreement that predated its membership of the elite group; since then it has helped Pakistan build 2 more reactors at Chashma, and has declared assistance for another 2 at Karachi, despite protests at NSG.
  • Despite US spending heavily into Pakistan, China remains their reliable ally. For the US use them to achieve their strategic goals and ditching them as per their will.
  • China has always provided Pakistan the security of constant backing by a big power.
  • China was sinking money in Gwadar port, but many dismissed much greater Chinese involvement in Pakistan’s economy (other than in defense production) as a pie in the sky because of Pakistan’s security situation.
  • The CPEC, with its energy, finance, information technology and communications components, along with security and political dimensions, is an upgrade many times over of that basic idea of Pakistan offering its strategic location in exchange for investment.
  • Where it comes to protecting its interests, Beijing has drawn a red line on Islamist irregulars such as the East Turkestan Independence Movement, which it has held responsible for terror attacks in Xinjiang.

TIFF BETWEEN CHINA AND PAKISTAN

However, the relationship between China and Pakistan is not without worries.

  • In the past the Chinese government held suspicions that Uyghur terrorists were operating in Pakistan and running terrorist training camps in the country, and that these terrorists had a direct relationship with terrorist incidents in Xinjiang.
  • Pakistan suffered a stunning blow in 1971 when contrary to expectations of both Pakistan and the US, and to the dismay of both, China kept out of the war that led to the birth of Bangladesh.
  • In recent years, fundamentalism has spread very quickly within Xinjiang and the Chinese government has been extremely concerned about Pakistan’s willingness, ability, and determination to fight Islamic terrorism.
  • China is also concerned about the continued failure of the United States to successfully rebuild Afghanistan’s political order, especially the ambiguous role played by Pakistan.
  • China has recently expressed a desire to participate in peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, meaning that due to its powerful influence over Pakistan, it may be better qualified than the United States to play the role of mediator in delivering peace to Afghanistan.

CHINA-PAKISTAN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR

  • China-Pakistan cooperation projects are focused on four areas:
  • Energy projects, transport infrastructure, Gwadar Port, and industrial cooperation. Major energy projects include construction of a 300 megawatt solar power plant by Chinese company Zonergy, and work has already started on more than half of the remaining sixteen planned energy projects.
  • In terms of transport infrastructure, reconstruction and upgrade works of the Karakoram Highway (KKH) within Pakistan are underway
  • The construction of the Karachi-Lahore Motorway also started this March.
  • For the development of Gwadar Port, on November 11, 2015, Pakistan handed over 280 hectares of land use rights to a Chinese company for a term of forty-three years, and construction on new facilities is already underway.
  • Chinese projects in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor already employ more than 6,000 Pakistani workers, showing that the close relationship between China and Pakistan has already moved from the policy announcement to the project implementation stage.
  • The amount of funds involved, the depth of the exchanges, and the number of people participating are unprecedented in relations between these two countries.

HOW CAN IT AFFECT INDIA?

  • The fact that the route passes through the disputed Kashmir region seems to have worried India, which has about half a million troops stationed in its part of the territory to quell more than two decades of armed rebellion.
  • India doesn’t want to internationalise the Kashmir issue, but with Pakistan, China, and CPEC coming in, it seems inevitable.
  • India’s opposition to CPEC reflects a concern over the internationalisation of the Kashmir dispute and the growing influence of China in the Indian Ocean.
  • India sees Gwadar – a deep-sea port located in Balochistan province – as part of China’s “String of Pearls” bases, that extends from its eastern coast to the Arabian Sea.
  • China is also developing ports in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh that are considered a potential military challenge to India.
  • India fears that the port might become a Chinese naval outpost, thereby threatening India’s energy and economic security, as more than two thirds of India’s petroleum imports pass through the area.
  • The risk of the investment and of trade through that CPEC for India, in both geo-strategic and economic terms, might be too high.

INDIA’S Concerns

  • India’s primary objection to China’s staggeringly ambitious Belt and Road Initiative did not come about overnight. The first bit of brickwork was perhaps laid by the Sino-Pak agreement of 1963, under which China ceded 1,942 sq km to Pakistan, and Pakistan recognized Chinese sovereignty over thousands of square kilometers in northern Kashmir and Ladakh. India contests the agreement, which includes land that is part of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Through the 1980s and ’90s, as India-China relations improved through trade even as they talked on the boundary dispute, the Chinese leadership’s firm casting of Kashmir as a bilateral dispute was a bitter pill for Pakistan.
  • China also refused to offer nuclear guarantees to Pakistan after India’s 1998 nuclear tests.
  • During the Kargil conflict, China refused to give Pakistan any overt lift.
  • China also signed a Treaty of Peace, Co-operation and Friendship with Pakistan in 2005 during the visit of Premier Wen Jiabao, which one former Pakistani ambassador to China described as “a legal framework that has converted an old friendship into marriage”.
  • After the Mumbai attacks of 2008, China was unsympathetic to Pakistan, lifting its technical hold on the Security Council 1267 designation of Jamaat-ud-dawa and its chief, Hafiz Saeed. But it has refused to do this in the case of Jaish-e-Muhammad founder Masood Azhar.
  • With Xi Jinping’s rise to power, China proposed the grand strategy of “One Belt and One Road.”
  • India has not offered its support, while China has announced plans to invest 46 billion US dollars in Pakistan,
  • This “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” will continue the expansion of China’s political and economic influence in Central and South Asia.

WAY FORWARD

  • India and Japan plan to soft launch their own Asia-Africa connectivity project this month. Like OBOR, the Indo-Japanese plan is also predicated on a race for supremacy in the Indian Ocean.
  • Indian strategic thinkers have proposed strengthening of naval capabilities to fight pressures by China on its north.
  • India’s aims at denying China free waters through the Strait of Malacca to soften China’s stance on China-India border.
  • A geostrategic initiative being pushed by India to connect with Central Asia and Russia, INTERNATIONAL NORTH-SOUTH TRANSPORT CORRIDOR (INSTC)’s second dry run was reportedly conducted in April this year.
  • There is proposed corridor Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar-Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC) involving four nations and has generated much interests as well as concerns.
  • BCIM agenda is transforming landlocked and underdeveloped border regions of the countries involved, the latter pays more attention to the strategic implications it might have on the region.
  • With INSTC, India-Japan, and BCIMEC, India is ready tackle China-Pakistan equation in effective manner.
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