SISA Report no Deeper than the Indian Ocean? An Analysis of Pakistan- China Relations

December 7, 2017 | Author: Lee Robbins | Category: N/A
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1 SISA Report no Deeper than the Indian Ocean? An Analysis of Pakistan- China Relations Qandeel Siddique Oslo, February ...


                          SISA  Report  no.  16  -­‐  2014        

Deeper  than  the  Indian  Ocean?   An  Analysis  of  Pakistan-­‐China   Relations             Qandeel  Siddique   Oslo,  February  2014  


Centre  for  International  and  Strategic  Analysis   ©  SISA  2014     All  views  expressed  in  the  report  are  those  of  the  author  and  do  not  necessarily  represent  the  views  of  Centre  for   International   and   Strategic   Analysis.   The   text   may   not   be   printed   in   full   or   part   without   the   permission   of   the   author.       Queries  can  be  directed  to:   Centre  for  International  and  Strategic  Analysis   Phone:  (+47)  932  49  083   E-­‐mail:  [email protected]   Internet:  


  Executive  Summary     The  leadership  of  both  Pakistan  and  China  often  celebrate  their  mutual  relationship  in   ebulliently   congenial   fashion.     This   report   investigates   Sino-­‐Pak   friendship   and   partnership   by   examining   the   nature   and   extent   of   cooperation   within   the   diplomatic,   economic,   and   defense   spheres.     Amid   civil   and   military   circles,   as   well   as   the   general   Pakistani   public,   China   is   viewed   favorably.     Sino-­‐Pak   relations   are   strongest   in   diplomatic   and   defense   collaboration,   rooted   in   overlapping   geo-­‐strategic   interest   and   threat  perceptions.    Focus  now  is  on  bringing  to  par  economic  cooperation  and  people-­‐ to-­‐people  contact  by  strongly  endorsing  aspects  of  this  alliance.       Compared   to   the   US,   China   is   viewed   by   Islamabad   as   a   reliable,   “all-­‐weather”,   non-­‐ interfering,   supportive   strategic   partner.   While   the   US   is   looked   on   with   suspicion,   Beijing  is  treated  as  a  time-­‐tested  trusted  friend  –  this  confidence  centers  on  the  transfer   of   defense   technology.     The   undercurrent   of   common   interests   and   objectives   implies   that   Pakistan   and   China   face   the   same   friends   and   foes.   One   common   adversary,   in   particular   –   namely,   India   –   united   China   and   Pakistan,   and   arguably   this   remains   the   germane   reason   for   Sino-­‐Pak   alliance.   In   fact,   China   and   Pakistan   continue   to   create   partnerships   based   on   countering   the   possible   rise   in   influence   of   other   powers   in   the   region,   including   India,   Russia   and   the   United   States.   The   role   of   Gwadar   port   is   expedient   in   this   regard.   Attacks   on   Chinese   persons   inside   Pakistan,   and   violent   extremism   in   Xinjiang   province   that   has   been   linked   to   safe   havens   inside   Pakistan,   remain   thorny   issues   in   an   otherwise   rosy   alliance.   However,   there   appears   to   be   a   tacit   understanding  that  “outside  involvement”  (including  but  not  limited  to  the  US  and  India)   aimed  at  containing  Pakistan-­‐China  collaboration  is  a  likely  source  of  disturbance.          







        Contents     Executive  Summary  .....................................................................................................................................  3   Introduction  .....................................................................................................................................................  5   Diplomatic  Relations  ....................................................................................................................................  8   Cultural  exchange  ........................................................................................................................................  14   How  Pakistan  Sees  China  .........................................................................................................................  15   Post  2013  Election  developments  ........................................................................................................  17   How  China  sees  Pakistan  .........................................................................................................................  18   Pak  role:  offsetting/exploiting  US-­‐China  rivalry  ...........................................................................  20   Is  India  still  relevant?  ................................................................................................................................  21   Terrorism/Counter-­‐Terrorism  .............................................................................................................  24   Outside  involvement  ..................................................................................................................................  26   Economic  Relations  ....................................................................................................................................  27   Gwadar:  game-­‐changer?  ...........................................................................................................................  34   Defense  Relations  ........................................................................................................................................  35   Conclusion  ......................................................................................................................................................  42                



                                  Introduction   “Over   the   past   62   years   since   the   establishment   of   diplomatic   relations,   the   seed   of   China-­‐ Pakistan  friendship  sowed  by  Mao  Zedong,  Zhou  Enlai,  Zulfikar  Ali  Bhutto  and  other  leaders  of   the   older   generation,   has   grown   into   a   towering   tree   thanks   to   tendering   by   several   generations   of  Chinese  and  Pakistanis.”1  

  Broadly  speaking,  three  subject  matters  in  Pakistan  can  claim  to  enjoy  near-­‐unanimous,   nationwide  support.  Namely:   • Kashmir,   • Nuclear  bomb,  and   • China.     With   a   90%   favorability   rating   inside   Pakistan   as   per   a   2012   PEW   survey,   China’s   popularity   in   Pakistan   appears   to   cut   across   all   segments   of   the   Pakistani   populace.   Within   the   political   and   military   circles,   as   well   as   civil   society   and   the   general   public,   the  attitude  towards  China  is  seemingly  and  exceptionally  positive.     Islamabad’s  benevolent  disposition  towards  Beijing  can  be  gleaned  from  watching  state-­‐ owned  channel,  Pakistan  Television  or  PTV.  PTV  daily  broadcasts  a  song  about  Pakistan-­‐ China  friendship  (or  “Pak-­‐Chin  dosti”);  the  lyrics  are  a  combination  of  Urdu  and  Chinese,                                                                                                                  

1  Statement  by  Chinese  premier  Li  Keqiang;  “Full  Text  of  Premier  Li’s  Interview  with  Pakistani  Media”,  

Global  Times,  23  May  2013.  



repeating  the  chorus:  “Long  Live  Sino-­‐Pak  Friendship”  in  both  languages.  In  the  1970s,   too,   PTV   routinely   played   a   Pakistan-­‐China   friendship   song.   Pakistan   has   not   extended   such  gestures  to  any  other  country.       Another   action   signifying   the   importance   of   China   to   Pakistan   is   the   maiden   visit   to   China  made  by  Prime  Minister-­‐elect,  Nawaz  Sharif.    On  4  July  Sharif  made  China  the  first   destination   of   his   overseas   trip.   This   came   as   a   surprise   to   many   who   expected   Sharif   to   turn   to   Saudi   Arabia,   Pakistan’s   erstwhile   financier   and   also   a   personal   ally   to   Sharif;   after  being  deposed  in  a  military  coup  in  1999  (during  his  last  premiership).  Sharif  had   benefited   from   the   hospitality   of   Saudi   Arabia   where   he   took   refuge   for   eight   years.   Choosing  Beijing  over  Riyadh  as  his  first  port  of  call,  then,  magnifies  the  relevance  and   import  of  China.       Sino-­‐Pak  diplomatic  relations  can  be  traced  back  to  the  early  1950s.  On  9  January  1950   Pakistan  recognized  the  newly  established  Peoples  Republic  of  China  and  diplomatic  ties   between  Pakistan  and  China  were  forged  in  1951  when  Pakistan  opened  its  mission  in   Beijing.  Relations  are  thought  to  have  fizzled  when  Pakistan  was  seen  backing  the  United   States   against   seating   the   People’s   Republic   of   China   in   the   United   Nations.2  After   its   partition  from  India  in  1947,  the  newly  found  Pakistan  allied  itself  with  the  capitalist  US   coalition   and   at   a   time   when   India   and   China   were   allies.   In   a   convoluted   step,   under   Prime   Minister   Zulfikar   Ali   Bhutto   Pakistan   also   built   closer   ties   with   communist   countries,  including  Soviet  Union  and  China.     Pakistan   was   one   of   the   first   countries,   and   the   first   Muslim   country,   to   recognize   the   People’s   Republic   of   China   (PRC),   thus   providing   China   with   a   corridor   into   the   non-­‐ communist   world.   This   was   reciprocated   with   a   continual   stream   of   no-­‐strings-­‐attached   military   hardware   and   defense-­‐related   assistance   from   Beijing.   While   defense   cooperation   remains   a   lynchpin   in   their   partnership,   economy   and   energy   are   emerging   as  the  new  hot  topics.  They  are  of  imperative  importance  to  Islamabad  who  is  engaged   in  concerted  efforts  to  persuade  Beijing  to  bring  economic  and  commercial  ties  between   the  two  countries  at  par  with  the  duo’s  defense  dealings.                                                                                                                  

2  Ziad  Haider,  “Could  Pakistan  Bridge  the  U.S.-­‐China  Divide?”  Foreign  Policy,  25  March  2013.  




  China’s   rise   as   a   strong   economic   and   military   power   and   kingmaker   with   growing   political  clout  is  increasingly  challenging  American  hegemony.  While  China’s  friendship   with   a   number   of   countries   has   waxed   and   waned   over   the   decades,   Sino-­‐Pak   relationship   can   be   said   to   have   withstood   the   vicissitudes   of   larger   international   politics   as   well   as   changes   in   regional   and   domestic   currents.   The   close   ties   between   China   and   Pakistan   remained   steadfast   in   defiance   of   the   differences   in   language,   culture,  history,  and  ideology.    The  connection  is  often  noted  for  its  relative  uniformity   based  on  a  geo-­‐strategic  interests  common  to  both  China  and  Pakistan  and  has  been  well   preserved  over  time.     One   of   the   possible   bones   of   contention   in   an   otherwise   amiable   relationship   is   the   unstable   security   situation   in   Pakistan   and   the   threat   to   Chinese   workers/personnel.   Beijing  needs  a  stable  and  peaceful  Pakistan  in  order  to  realize  its  economic  endeavors   in  the  area.  While  the  killing  of  Chinese  nationals  in  Pakistan  severely  impairs  the  image   of   Pakistan   in   China,   it   does   not   appear   to   necessarily   cause   a   rift   in   state-­‐to-­‐state   relationship;  while  China  encourages  Pakistan  to  counter  its  prevalent  terrorist  trends,   there  is  also  a  tacit  understanding  between  the  two  nations  that  “outside  forces”  are  at   play  in  the  region,  interested  in  counter-­‐weighing  Sino-­‐Pak  partnership.3     China  is  heavily  invested  in  South  Asia;  this  arguably  bears  ramification  for  the  US  as  a   superpower   who   would   be   interested   in   countering   Chinese   influence.   There   appears   to   be  little  doubt  in  Islamabad  that,  despite  verbal  assurances  from  the  US  that  it  does  not   have  a  problem  with  Sino-­‐Pak  friendship,  the  US  is  “intervening”  in  this  regard.4  In  real   terms,   Pakistan   receives   greater   investment   and   assistance   from   the   US   and   the   balance   of  trade  between  US  and  Pakistan  is  in  the  latter’s  favor.    This  is  attributed  to  the  United   States   status   as   a   superpower   versus   that   of   China   that   remains   as   yet   shy   of   “the   category   of   countries   to   provide   immense   assistance”.5  Yet,   since   China   has   shown   to   evolve   over   the   years   with   economic   growth   and   increased   political   clout,   Islamabad   expects  to  continue  reaping  rewards  of  its  close  alliance  with  Beijing.                                                                                                                     3  Interviews  with  defense  analysts  and  journalists,  Islamabad,  June/July  2013.   4  Ibid.   5  Ibid.  



However,  it  is  possible  that  while  bilateral  cooperation  remains  robust  in  the  Sino-­‐Pak   partnership.   Especially   from   the   Chinese   perspective,   it   may   not   be   as   important   as   it   once  was  –  that  is,  it  is  now  more  cordial  than  considerable.  Firstly,  a  thaw  in  Sino-­‐Indo   relations  starting  in  the  late  1980s  signaled  a  declination  in  Chinese  interests  vis-­‐à-­‐vis   Pakistan.   China   arguably   feels   less   contested   by   India   today;   China   boasts   a   GDP   4   times   higher  than  India,  and  military  budget  3  times  as  large.  Trade  between  China  and  India  is   six  times  greater  than  that  between  China  and  Pakistan.  Furthermore  for  Beijing,  threats   posed  by  India,  while  important,  are  not  as  important  as  those  it  faces  in  the  east  –  that   is,   other   regional   issues   and   challenges,   chiefly   those   emanating   from   the   East   Asian   Littoral.     Secondly,   the   security   crisis   in   Pakistan   (endangering   the   lives   of   the   13,000   Chinese   workers  in  the  country)  and  the  Uighur  dissent  in  China’s  Xinjiang  province  (perceived   to   be   further   inflamed   by   the   spread   of   militancy   in   Pakistan)   have   led   Beijing   to   question   the   stability   and   security   Pakistan   can   offer   to   advance   Chinese   economic   interests,  and  also  engenders  mistrust  where  Pakistan  is  seen  incapable  or  unwilling  to   manage  terrorist  trends  that  affect  China.     Diplomatic  Relations   By  most  accounts  the  flattering  clichés  often  exchanged  between  Islamabad  and  Beijing   in   praise   of   their   friendship   is   not   an   entire   exaggeration.6  Leaders   of   both   countries   have  typically  been  effusive  and  often  poetic  in  describing  their  relationship.7  Since  the   inception   of   bilateral   ties   in   May   1951   China   and   Pakistan   have   had   relatively   smooth   diplomatic  relations.       The  hyperbolic  jargon  use  to  describe  the  Sino-­‐Pak  relationship  is  almost  always  used  by   top   tier   officials   on   both   sides,   pointing   at   the   preeminence   of   diplomatic   relations.   This   is   chiefly   because:   1)   China   is   considered   an   all-­‐weather   friendship;   in   that   it   will   not   abandon  Pakistan  as  the  US  is  known  to  have  done;  2)  self-­‐reliance;  it  offers  a  chance  for                                                                                                                   6  Ibid.   7  For  example:  “Lush  tree  with  deep  roots  and  thick  foliage,  full  of  vigour  and  vitality”;  “Higher  than  the  

mountains,  deeper  than  the  oceans,  sweeter  than  honey,  and  stronger  than  steel”;  and  most  recently   during  the  Chinese  premier’s  visit  to  Pakistan  in  May  2013,  he  said:  “The  tree  of  China-­‐Pakistan  friendship   …  is  now  exuberant  with  abundant  fruits”;  “Chinese  Premier  in  Pakistan,  Praising  Ties”,  Dawn,    



Pakistan  to  stand  on  its  own  feet  via  transfer  of  technology,  3)  counterpoise  India,  and  4)   joint  counter  terrorism  efforts.8       The  blueprint  of  Sino-­‐Pak  relationship  precedes  the  present  government  in  Islamabad;   there   is   a   deep   understanding   that   no   matter   what   government   is   in   power,   the   relationship   with   China   is   deemed   paramount.9  Every   Pakistani   government   -­‐   civilian   or   military  -­‐  has  supported  strong  and  friendly  ties  with  China.     Despite   that   Pakistan   was   tied   to   the   US-­‐led   western   bloc   through   its   membership   of   various   military   alliances,   like   CENTO   and   SEATO   –   which   were   arguably   aimed   at   containing  China  –  relations  were  forged  between  Pakistan  and  China,  most  notably  at   the   1954   Bandung   Conference   (a   forerunner   to   the   Non-­‐Aligned   Movement)   in   Indonesia.   Bandung   provided   an   interface   for   initiating   Pak-­‐China   dialogue,   where   Islamabad  assured  its  Chinese  counterpart  that  it  had  joined  SEATO  to  protect  itself  and   not  as  a  containment  strategy  or  maneuvers  against  China.10         During  this  period  China  was  reeling  a  revolution;  it  struggled  with  under-­‐development   and   a   relative   isolation   from   the   world   community   at   large.   Pakistan   played   a   pivotal   role  in  entering  China  to  world  politics  and  forming  a  bridge  between  China  and  US.     Islamabad  prides  itself  in  leading  the  campaign  for  the  restoration  of  China’s  legitimate   right  in  UN.    In  China,  Pakistan  is  remembered  as  “the  bridge  with  which  it  crossed  the   river”.11  Pakistan  bolstered  China’s  diplomatic  position;  President  Ayub  Khan  supported   China  in  UNSC.  Pakistan  at  the  time  had  British  learning  to  impart  and  include  China  to   the  rest  of  the  world.12     In  1971,  US  Secretary  of  State  Henry  Kissinger  officially  visited  Pakistan;  during  the  trip,   the   latter   facilitated   Kissinger’s   secret   visit   to   China.   This   laid   the   foundation   for   a   subsequent   visit   by   President   Nixon   and   the   “opening   up”   of   the   Peoples   Republic   of   China  to  the  world.  In  the  mindset  of  the  Pakistani  establishment,  the  event  in  Sino-­‐Pak   history   to   have   congealed   Chinese   trust   and   friendship   is   the   role   played   by   the   latter   in                                                                                                                   8  Amb  Arif  Kamal,  interview,  Islamabad,  June  2013.    22  May  2013.   9  Ibid.   10  Fazlur  Rehman,  interview,  4  July  2013.  

11  Amb  Khalid  Mahmood,  interview,  2  July  2013.   12    Fazlur  Rehman,  Strategic  Studies  Institute  Islamabad  (SSII),  interview,  Islamabad,  4  July  2013.  



enabling  mainland  China  to  be  recognized  by  the  US  and  the  world  community.  China  it   is  frequently  said  has  “not  forgotten”  the  help  provided  by  Pakistan  in  this  regard.13       At   Bandung,   Pakistan   had   also   communicated   to   China   the   threat   India   posed.14  While   during  the  50s,  Indo-­‐China  relationship  had  been  hailed  under  the  slogan  of  Hindi  Cheeni   bhai  bhai   (“Hindu   and   Chinese   are   brothers”),   the   1962   border   conflict   between   India   and   China   invited   Islamabad   with   an   opportunity   to   water   the   seeds   of   the   friendship   planted   at   Bandung.   India   was   effectively   catapulted   as   the   main   overlapping   regional   interest   to   adjoin   Beijing   and   Islamabad.   The   relationship   sprouted   further   with   the   emergence   of   the   Non-­‐Aligned   Movement   (NAM),   an   organization   formed   in   Belgrade   in   1961   consisting   of   groups   of   states   not   formally   aligned   with   or   against   any   power   bloc,   and   by   the   prevailing   Sino-­‐Soviet   schism   that   was   accompanied   by   an   Indo-­‐Soviet   alliance.15       Convergence   of   threat   perceptions,   strategic   interests,   and   shared   approach   to   major   regional  and  global  developments  drives  Sino-­‐Pak  diplomatic  liaison.  In  this  context,  the   Agreement   to   establish   Annual   Meeting   Mechanism   at   the   leadership   and   Dialogue   Mechanism  at  the  Foreign  Ministers  level  is  of  strategic  significance.  There  could  be  said   to   exist   a   genuine   and   mutual   appreciation,   understanding   and   respect,   especially   at   the   state-­‐to-­‐state   level.   Strict   fidelity   to   the   Five   Principles   of   Peaceful   Existence   is   often   hailed  as  the  hallmark  of  this  unique  union.       The  Five  Principles  of  Peaceful  Existence  was  first  formally  codified  in  a  treaty  between   China  and  India  in  1954  and  pivoted  on  the  following  5  tenets:       1.

Mutual  respect  for  each  other’s  territorial  integrity  and  sovereignty  


Mutual  non-­‐aggression  


Mutual  non-­‐interference  in  each  other’s  internal  affairs  


Equality  and  mutual  benefit  


Peaceful  co-­‐existence  

                                                                                                                13  Academics  and  former  diplomats,  interviews,  Islamabad,  June/July  2013.     14  Ibid.  

15  Statement  by  Amb  Khalid  Mahmood,  Seminar  on  “Strategic  Environment  and  Its  Fallout  on  Regional  

Security  and  Economic  Development”  at  National  Defense  University,  Islamabad,  3-­‐4  April  2012.  



  China  itself  often  associates  itself  closely  with  the  Five  Principles.16  As  China  and  India   lapsed  on  the  agreement,  entering  into  conflicts,  Pakistan’s  adherence  to  the  Principles   was   highlighted.


 While   China   has   warred   with   or   continues   to   experience  

confrontations   with   many   of   its   22   geographic   neighbors   –   including   Korea,   Japan,   Russia,  Vietnam,  India  –  Pakistan  remains  one  of  the  few  neighbors  with  whom  Beijing   has  not  clashed.       Territory  in  Kashmir  held  the  potential  of  a  border  dispute  between  China-­‐Pakistan,  as   demarcations   were   not   clear.   Yet   in   1963,   Pakistan   quietly   handed   over   5,180   square   kilometers  of  Kashmir  to  China.18  However,  according  to  some  experts  and  despite  what   is   often   presumed   in   Pakistan,   it   was   China   that   ceded   territory   to   Pakistan. 19   Nevertheless,   the   issue   was   amicably   resolved,   reflecting   and   further   solidifying   Sino-­‐ Pak   bonds.   The   reason   for   no   serious   contention   having   sparked   is   buttressed   largely   in   the  fact  that  Sino-­‐Pak  security  concerns  do  not  clash.20     Indeed  Islamabad  lends  support  to  all  major  political  issues  pertinent  to  China,  including   the  latter’s  right  to  Taiwan  and  its  claim  over  other  contested  territories  in  the  region,   supporting   the   “One   China”   policy.21  In   turn,   China   –   a   rising   global   player   -­‐   upholds   a   record   of   defending   Pakistan   in   world   bodies   and   international   forums   and   promulgating   Pakistani   interests.   At   the   United   Nations   Security   Council,   for   instance,   China  used  its  veto  power  at  Bangladesh’s  request  to  join  United  Nations,  imposing  the   condition  that  Pakistani  Prisoners  of  War  (POWs)  are  returned  first.       A   source   of   dissonance   threatening   to   jangle   Sino-­‐Pak   friendship   was/is   the   threats   springing   from   terrorism   and   instability   in   Pakistan.   However,   despite   the   seriousness   of   the   issue   of   Uighur   militancy   that   China   faces,   and   one   that   has   been   interlinked   to   terrorist   havens   in   Pakistan,   state-­‐to-­‐state   relations   remain   resolute.   Instead,   there                                                                                                                  

16  “Backgrounder:  Five  principles  of  peaceful  coexistence”,  Xinhuanet.  8  April  2005.   17  Fazl-­‐ur  Rehman,  “Pakistan-­‐China  Relations  at  60”,,  20  May  2011;  Amb.  Khalid  Mahmood,   NDU  seminar,  April  2012.   18  “India-­‐China  Border  Dispute”,,     19  Fazlur  Rehman,  interview,  4  July  2013;  “Sino-­‐Pakistan  Boundary”,  Dawn,  9  January  2010.     20  Defense  analysts,  interview,  Islamabad,  June/July  2013.   21  China  is  particular  about  its  history  and  remembers  its  friends  and  allies;  “The  100  years  of  humiliation   during  the  opium  war  is  infused  in  Chinese  psyche”  Fazlur  Rehman,  SSII,  interview.  



prevails   a   tacit   understanding   that   anti-­‐Pakistan   “hidden   hands” 22  interested   in   sabotaging  the  security  of  the  region  and  derailing  Sino-­‐Pak  cooperation  are  at  work.     In  fact  China  has  displayed  considerable  sympathy  for  Pakistan  despite  the  latter  being   referred   to   as   a   “terrorist”   or   “failing”   state   by   vast   sections   of   the   international   community.   Beijing   has   –   in   contrast   to   the   United   States   –   largely   braced   Pakistani   counter-­‐terrorism   efforts.   Over   the   years   China   has   countered   US   dissatisfaction   with   Pakistan  for  “not  doing  enough”  to  fight  terrorism.  Further,  in  response  to  the  US  drone   attacks   on   Pakistan,   China   has   stressed   its   support   for   Pakistani   sovereignty.   Chinese   premier  Li  Keqian  encapsulates  all  this  in  a  recent  statement:     We   recognize   the   positive   contribution   Pakistan   has   made   to   maintain   peace   and   stability,   combat   terrorism   and   promote   development  in  South  Asia  as  well  as  the  huge  pressure  from  various   sides   on   it.   The   international   community   should   give   Pakistan   full   understanding,   recognition   and   necessary   support.   On   behalf   of   the   Chinese  government,  I  wish  to  reiterate  solemnly  China’s  continued   firms   support   to   Pakistan   in   its   efforts   to   uphold   independence,   sovereignty   and   territorial   integrity   and   achieve   national   stability   and  development.23     The  stern  and  public  support  for  Islamabad  by  Beijing  in  the  aftermath  of  United  States   raid   on   bin   Laden’s   compound   in   the   Pakistani   city   of   Abbottabad   in   May   2011   is   indicative   of   China’s   timely   assurance   of   strong   solidarity   with   Pakistan.   The   gesture   was/is   largely   viewed   as   symbolic   of   the   two   nations   continued   strategic   congruence,   from   the   bilateral   to   global   level.24     Similarly,   after   the   Mumbai   attack   in   November   2008,   the   Pakistani   Foreign   Office   “immediately   turned   to   China”25,   possibly   to   solicit   help   –   indicating   the   level   of   trust   between   the   two   countries.    More   recently,   when   foreigners  –  including  Chinese  –  were  attacked  and  killed  in  Gilgit-­‐Baltistan  in  mid-­‐2013   –   Pakistani   officials   personally   flew   to   Beijing   to   discuss   the   matter   and   ensure   the   future  safety  of  Chinese  persons  in  Pakistan,  making  it  a  priority  to  curtail  any  adverse  

                                                                                                                22  “Conspiracy:  ‘Hidden  Hands’  Involved  in  Attack  on  Foreign  Tourists”,  The  Express  Tribune,  23  June   2013.   23  “Full  Text  of  Chinese  Premier´s  Interview  With  Pakistani  Media,”  Xinhuanet,  22  May  2013.   24  Government  officials,  interviews,  Islamabad,  June/July  2013.     25  Ibid.    



affects   of   the   incident   on   ongoing   Pak-­‐China’s   developments/projects.26  These   actions   reflect  the  continued  close  cooperation  and  support  shared  between  the  two  countries.        Other  occasions  marking  this  bonhomie  includes  the  100,000  pieces  of  commemorative   coins  bearing  flags  of  both  countries  and  inscriptions  reading  “Sixty  years  celebrations   of  the  Independence  of  the  Jamhoria  China”  and  “Long  live  Pak-­‐China  friendship”27  that   were   issued   by   the   State   Bank   in   Pakistan   in   2009   in   an   endeavor   to   express   its   solidarity   with   the   People’s   Republic   of   China   on   the   occasion   of   the   latter’s   60th   anniversary.   Another   example   is   “Year   of   China-­‐Pakistan   Friendship”;   2011   was   designated   thus   in   order   to   celebrate   the   60th   anniversary   of   diplomatic   relations   between  the  two  countries.     Some  academics  posit  that  the  kernel  of  Sino-­‐Pak  partnership  lies  in  national  interests   alone:   “there   are   no   friends   or   foes   in   international   relations”.28  China’s   “brotherly”   (Hindi  Cheeni  Bhai  Bhai)   closeness   to   Pakistan’s   archrival   India   in   the   1950s   intimates   how   associations   are   driven   by   strategic/political   expediencies   of   the   time.   The   argument   presumes   that   owing   to   important   differences   in   the   religious,   cultural   and   social  makeup  of  the  Pakistani  and  Chinese  states,  a  “genuine  affiliation”  between  them   is  not  possible.29     Conversely,   it   could   be   argued   that   maintaining   good   ties   over   an   extended   period   of   time   and   in   spite   of   religious/cultural   differences   is   a   testimony   of   a   solid   friendship.   The   two   nations   can   boast   a   history   of   being   “friends   in   need”.30  Pakistan   facilitated   People’s  Republic  China  to  gain  international  legitimacy,  handed  part  of  its  territory  to   China,   and   backs   Chinese   ambitions   in   the   region.   China   supports   Pakistan   in   world   forums,  muscles  its  defense  capability,  and  has  –  overtly  or  through  backdoor  diplomacy   –  helped  Pakistan  during  Indo-­‐Pak  wars.    

                                                                                                                26  Ibid.   27  “Celebrating  60th  Anniversary  of  China,”  Pakistan  Textile  Journal,  September  2009.   28  Dr.  Brig.  Mohd.  Khan,  NDU  Islamabad,  interview,  July  2013.   29  Ibid.  

30  Amb  Khalid  Mahmood,  interview,  Islamabad,  July  2013.  



Cultural  exchange   A   perceived   lacuna   in   Sino-­‐Pak   friendship   is   the   lack   of   people-­‐to-­‐people   contact.   Addressing   this   “deficiency”   and   promoting   people-­‐to-­‐people   exchange   –   including   between  students,  scholars,  workers  and  media  -­‐  is  increasingly  voiced  as  a  priority  in   future  Sino-­‐Pak  relations.31  That  is  not  to  say  that  there  is  a  dearth  in  activity;  Chinese   students   and   workers   continue   to   come   to   Pakistan   and   numerous   Pakistanis   go   to   China  for  work  or  jobs.  As  of  2013,  about  8,000  Pakistanis  are  studying  in  China;  PRC  is   gradually   emerging   as   “the   new   West”   for   the   South   Asian   audience   –   that   is,   a   more   attractive   university   destination   as   compared   to   United   States   and   United   Kingdom.32   This   evolution   is   likely   due   to   the   easier   access   to   China   as   well   as   its   relatively   cheaper   costs;  thus  inviting  not  only  the  elite  of  Pakistani  society  but  also  the  middle  –  and  lower   classes.   Reports   also   show   a   growing   number   of   Pakistani   students   in   the   country   are   inclined   to   learn   Chinese.33  In   addition,   there   exists   a   number   of   Chinese   expats   in   Pakistani  universities,  such  as  Islamic  University  and  the  National  University  of  Modern   Languages   that   constitutes   a   Confucius   Centre.34  There   are   an   estimated   15,000   Chinese   technicians   in   Pakistan.   Nevertheless,   Islamabad’s   ambition   is   to   expand   this   area   of   cooperation   as   it   is   deemed   underdeveloped   compared   to   other   nodes   of   bilateral   cooperation.     Official  cultural  exchanges  between  China  and  Pakistan  date  back  to  March  1965  when   representatives   from   both   governments   first   inked   a   cultural   agreement.   Under   the   Cooperative   Educational   Program,   students   selected   by   the   Pakistan   Higher   Education   Council   are   sent   to   China   for   doctoral   studies.   An   aspect   of   this   exchange   centers   on   Sino-­‐Pakistani   cooperation   in   science   and   technology   –   an   agreement   that   was   signed   in   1976   –   and   has   matured   over   the   years   to   form   the   joint   committee   of   science   and   technology.     Construction   of   the   Pak-­‐China   Friendship   Centre   in   Islamabad   is   seen   as   an   icon   of   both   countries’  commitment  to  enhancing  cultural  ties.  Chinese  officials  have  emphasized  the   vitality  of  this  “friendship”.  According  to  Chinese  ambassador  to  Pakistan,  Liu  Jian:                                                                                                                     31  Amb  Khalid  Mahmood,  NDU  seminar,  April  2012;  PTV  News,  June/July  2013   32  “Pakistan’s  Middle  Class  Fixes  Sights  on  China,”  The  Express  Tribune,  8  March  2013;  “For  Many  

Pakistanis,  China  is  ‘The  New  West’,”  Dawn,  8  March  2013.   33  Pakistan-­‐China  Institute,  interview,  1  July  2013.     34  Ibid.  



“China  and  Pakistan  enjoy  a  long-­‐standing  friendship.  This  year  China  and  Pakistan  have   very   important   domestic   political   changes,   yet   no   matter   how   our   domestic   situations   may  evolve  our  friendship  will  remain  unchanged.”35     A   separate   and   relatively   new   centre   called   Pakistan-­‐China   Institute   in   Islamabad   and   headed   by   Senator   Mushahid   Hussain   aims   to   promote   people-­‐to-­‐people   exchange   between   Pakistan   and   China.   It   is   the   first   institute   of   its   kind   to   implement   Chinese   language   in   school   curricula;   initially   targeting   the   Roots   school   system   in   Pakistan,   and   now   expanding   to   other   schools.   It   claims   that   about   3,000   students   are   currently   learning   Chinese.36  This   reflects   the   current   political   climate   and   efforts   to   endorse   closer  cultural  ties  between  the  countries.     Despite   marginal   people-­‐to-­‐people   contact   between   Chinese   and   Pakistani   nationals,   goodwill  between  the  two  nations  is  immense:  Pakistanis  are  generally  welcomed  with   open-­‐arms   in   China   and   “treated   like   kings”.37  Having   been   the   underdog   for   many   years,  Islamabad  invariably  appreciates  such  friendly  overtures,  and  is  keenly  aware  of   the  benefits  of  siding  with  an  increasingly  influential  nation.     How  Pakistan  Sees  China   For   Pakistan,   China   is   a   powerful   neighbor,   defense   partner,   and   economic   partner,   as   well  as  important  for  the  new  issues  related  to  connectivity  and  furthering  commercial   interests.  Pakistan  appreciates  the  bonhomie  it  receives  from  its  Chinese  friends.  Some   refer   to   this   as   a   Chinese   tactic   to   “smother   the   barbarian   with   love”.38  Pakistan   feels   victimized  by  the  world  community  as  the  global  “black  sheep”,  harboring  bin  Laden  and   selling   nuclear   technology   to   countries   like   North   Korea,   among   other   allegations.   It   therefore   enjoys   Beijing’s   friendly   overtures   and   the   bond   is   thickened.   As   China   is   growing   to   be   an   incrementally   more   powerful   world   leader,   and   it   is   in   Pakistan’s   interest  to  side  with  it  and  capitalize  on  the  relationship.  In  contrast,  the  US  is  seen  as   “ordering”  Pakistan  to  do  its  bidding.                                                                                                                       35  “Enhancing  Cultural  Ties  Between  China  and  Pakistan”,  CNTV  English,  24  May  2013.   36  Pakistan-­‐China  Institute  Islamabad,  interview,  1  July  2013.   37  Ex-­‐officials  interviews,  Islamabad,  June/July  2013.   38  Ibid.  



The   impetus   guiding   Islamabad   to   turn   to   and   strengthen   its   relationship   with   Beijing   is   broad   based.     Firstly,   China   is   a   powerful   ally   to   have.   From   Islamabad’s   perspective,   China  is  a  rising  superpower  and  a  close  friendship  with  it  can  provide  Pakistan  with  the   leverage   it   needs   in   the   world   community   –   for   instance,   China   holds   veto   right   in   the   UN.  China  is  also  a  member  state  of  the  Nuclear  Suppliers  Group,  something  that  is  also   relevant   for   Pakistan   given   US-­‐India   nuclear   ties   and   Pakistan's   status   as   a   non-­‐ signatory  of  the  Non-­‐Proliferation  Treaty  (along  with  India,  Israel  and  North  Korea).       Pakistan   also   needs   to   revive   itself   economically,   and   in   this   context   solicits   Chinese   assistance.39  The   strategic   deep-­‐sea   maritime   port   at   Gwadar   (financed/operated   by   China)   provides   Pakistan   with   an   invaluable   opportunity   to   intensify   commercial   relations  with  the  energy-­‐rich  Central  Asian  Republics.    Gwadar  also  effectively  reduces   distances  by  500kmbetween  Pakistan  and  Central  Asia;  by  facilitating  transfer  of  oil  and   gas   resources   from   Central   Asia   to   the   world   market,   Pakistan   opens   the   possibility   of   significant  transit  fees.  40     Further,   in   order   to   mitigate   Indian   influence   in   the   region,   the   Sino-­‐Pak   alliance   is   deemed   as   crucial.   The   alliance   is   also   important   for   raising   the   Pakistani   profile   amongst   other   geographical   actors/neighbors.   Pakistan   is   the   only   country   that   according  to  a  PEW  survey  conducted  in  2012  can  boast  a  near  90%  favorability  rating   towards  China.  China  is  popular  amongst  Pakistanis,  and  this  friendly  view  appears  to  be   comprehensive  –  cutting  across  the  different  sections  of  society.     As   mentioned   previously,   a   lynchpin   in   Sino-­‐Pak   relations   has   been   the   defense   industrial   complex:   In   particular   the   “transfer   of   technology”   is   vastly   viewed   as   a   veritable   sign   of   China’s   good   intentions   towards   Pakistan.   China   is   the   only   country   known   to   transfer   technology   to   Pakistan,   thereby   encouraging   its   military   self-­‐reliance,   as   well   as   significantly   bolstering   the   “indigenous-­‐isation”   of   Pakistan’s   defense   capability.41  Within   Pakistani   civilian   and   military   leadership   there   is   a   consensus   to   prioritize  good  relations  with  China.                                                                                                                       39  This  is  discussed  in  greater  depth  in  a  later  chapter  on  Economic  Relations.    

40  Zahid  Ali  Khan  (2012)  ”China’s  Gwadar  and  India’s  Chahbahar”,  Institute  of  Strategic  Studies  Islamabad.   41  Ibid.  



Post  2013  Election  developments   Prime  Minister  Nawaz  Sharif  won  general  elections  in  Pakistan  in  May  2013.  Sharif  hails   from   the   business   community   and   China   practices   a   strict   business   policy;   on   paper   this   resonates   of   a   harmonious   union.   Sharif   further   has   a   history   of   good   relations   with   India   and   the   West.   Sharif,   like   other   politicians   in   this   election   campaign,   has   risen   on   a   wave  of  anti-­‐Americanism.  His  brother  Shahbaz  Sharif,  former  chief  minister  of  Punjab,   had   stopped   all   projects   by   the   US   Agency   for   International   Development   (USAID)   in   Punjab  province  as  a  mark  of  anger  against  Washington’s  policies  and  use  of  drones  on   Pakistani   soil.42  Recently,   in   November   2013,   Imran   Khan’s   political   party   in   the   KPK   province  stopped  NATO  trucks  from  passing  into  Afghanistan  in  protest  against  the  US   drone  campaign  in  the  country.       Despite  the  relative  low  favorability  ratings,  Pakistan  appears  to  figure  highly  on  China’s   foreign   policy   agenda;   this   was   reflected   in   the   Chinese   premier   Li   Keqiang’s   two-­‐day   visit  to  Pakistan  starting  22  May  2013.  It  came  quick  on  the  heels  of  a  general  election  in   Pakistan,   and   during   an   interim   government   set-­‐up   when   foreign   visitors   –   especially,   high   profile   dignitaries   –   rarely   visit   a   country.   It   was   Keqiang’s   first   overseas   tour   as   premier.  During  this  visit,  outgoing  President  Asif  Ali  Zardari  reiterated  the  importance   of   China   to   Pakistan:   “Friendship   with   China   is   a   cornerstone   of   our   foreign   policy”.43   Keqiang   held   talks   with   Zardari   as   well   as   the   caretaker   prime   minister   and   the   incoming  prime  minister,  Nawaz  Sharif.     The   visit   centered   on   boosting   trade   ties   with   the   incoming   government,   and   it   came   on   the  heels  of  a  similar  stop  to  neighboring  India,  where  bilateral  trade  was  also  discussed.   Tariq  Fatemi,  former  Pakistani  ambassador  to  the  US,  suggested  that  China  saw  the  visit   at  this  stage  as  “necessary”  and  key  to  drawing  an  economic  roadmap  for  the  incoming   government.44    Nawaz   Sharif   won   the   elections   on   his   slogan   and   promise   of   a   “Strong   Economy   –   Strong   Pakistan”.   Along   with   tackling   violent   extremism,   revitalizing   the   country’s   ailing   economy   is   the   foremost   issue   facing   the   new   administration.   China’s   role  in  bolstering  the  economy  is  therefore  seen  as  crucial.                                                                                                                     42  Ahmed  Rashid,  “What  Nawaz  Sharif’s  Win  Means  for  Pakistan’s  Neighbours,”  BBC,  12  May  2013.   43  “Chinese  Premier  Visits  Pakistan,  Praises  Ties,”  Times  of  India,  22  May  2013.   44  “Chinese  Premier  Begins  Pakistan  Visit,”  Al-­‐Jazeera  English,  22  May  2013.  



How  China  sees  Pakistan   China  retains  a  high  favorability  rating  in  Pakistan:  according  to  Pew  Research  Centre  as   of  2012,  nine-­‐in-­‐ten  Pakistanis  considered  China  to  be  a  partner.45  However,  only  about   one-­‐third   (31%)   of   the   Chinese   population   viewed   Pakistan   favorably.   In   comparison,   23%   viewed   India   positively,   and   43%   held   a   favorable   view   of   the   US.46  The   lower   popularity  ratings  in  China  (towards  Pakistan)  are  possibly  due  to  the  negative  overall   Pakistani   image   throughout   the   world   today   and   news   reports   of   Chinese   nationals   killed  in  Pakistan  –  e.g.  a  Chinese  woman  was  killed  in  Peshawar  last  year.       Defying   the   popular   opinion   that   Pakistan   “needs”   China   more   than   vice   versa,   there   apparently   prevail   canons   of   thought   in   China   who   insist   that:   “China   needs   Pakistan   more”,   according   to   observers   familiar   with   these   dynamics.47  It   is   possible   that   parity   between   Pakistan   and   China   exists   where   both   countries   can   offer   something   to   the   other  in  equal  measure.  Firstly,  the  containment  of  India  through  Pakistan  is  important   for  China.48  India  is  arguably  a  perennial  issue  and  important  for  both  countries.       As   a   rising   power,   China   aims   to   primarily   create   a   network   of   friends   in   the   region;   it   is   debatable  whether  it  harbors  any  hegemonic  interests,  however  it  appears  to  strengthen   its   presence   across   South   Asia.     These   interests   appear   to   be   guided   by   two   key   concerns:  Security  and  energy.       Firstly,   security:   China   appears   keen   to   ensure   peace   in   its   own   backyard.   Seeking   to   solidify  its  economic  hold,  China’s  outlook  for  the  coming  decades  pivots  on  achieving  its   economic   goals   that,   in   return,   require   stability   in   the   region.   Regionally,   China   is   actively   promoting   the   ethos   that   “economy   is   the   new   currency   of   security”.49  To   this   end,  China  attempts  to  ensure  that  even  Pakistan-­‐India  relations  remain  stable.       Pakistan’s  unstable  political  situation  and  shortage  of  energy  adversely  impacts  foreign   direct   investment   (FDI).   As   stated   by   Chinese   officials   in   the   past,   ”As   the   political   situation  stabilizes  and  the  economy  keeps  growing,  there  will  be  increased  potential  for                                                                                                                   45  “Pakistan  Public  Opinion  Ever  More  Critical  of  U.S.”  Pew  Research  Centre,  27  June  2012.   46  “Growing  Concerns  in  China  About  Inequality,”  Pew  Research  Centre,  16  October  2012.   47  S.  M.  Hali  &  Javed  Akhtar,  interview,  Islamabad,  June  2013.   48Defense  analysts,  interview,  Islamabad,  June/July  2013.   49  S.  M.  Hali  &  Javed  Akhtar,  June  2013.  



investment,   and   Pakistan’s   exports   will   gradually   pick   up.”50     China   is   interested   in   turning  the  region  into  an  economic  hub.  This  can  be  traced  to  reform  policies  initiated   by   Deng   Xiaoping   in   1983;   converting   a   small   fishing   village   of   Shenzhen   city   -­‐   then   population   70,000   –   to   a   bustling   7   million   (average   age   of   29)   metropolis.   China’s   priority  in  the  next  20-­‐30  years  remains  economy-­‐oriented.       Secondly,   energy:   In   order   to   meet   its   growing   energy   requirements,   China   seeks   new   and  expedient  routes.  The  aforementioned  security  dimension  provides  China  with  safe   passages.   Therefore   China   appears   geared   to   putting   Gwadar   on   the   fast   track   where   expanding   road   links   to   the   city   is   underway   and   establishing   a   railway   network   has   been   discussed.     In   the   1980s,   Chinese   industry   was   established   in   China’s   western   province  of  Xinjiang  of  which  Kashgar  is  a  main  city.  As  “China  needs  more  energy  and   needs   to   diversify   its   sources”51,   Gwadar   offers   crucial   access   to   sea   routes   to   the   Indian   Ocean  from  Xinjiang.       The  geopolitics  of  Pakistan  is  important  to  China;  50%  of  China  oil  imports  come  from   the   Middle   East   and   20%   from   Africa.   Presently   this   oil   is   mostly   passing   through   the   Strait   of   Malacca;   a   sea-­‐borne   supply   route   that   can   be   easily   interrupted   by   foreign   powers.   Indian   and   American   military   bases   are   omnipresent   in   this   area,   potentially   causing  havoc  to  the  Chinese  economy  in  case  of  conflict:  They  can  interrupt  shipments   in  sea  borne  oil  under  the  PSI  (proliferation  security  initiative).52       As   the   current   Gulf   of   Aden   route   is   lined   with   US   military   bases,   China’s   strategic   military   goals   –   running   through   to   2025   –   includes   expanding   the   role   of   its   Navy   in   order   to   mitigate   this   potential   threat   –   its   presence   in   Gwadar   is   therefore   strategically   important.   There   is   ongoing   academic   debate   about   whether   Gwadar   port   is   intended   to  


50  Quoted  in  Ding  Qingfen,  “Pakistan  Seeks  Investment  Lift,”  China  Daily,  20  May  2011.   51  Tim  Arango  and  Clifford  Klauss,  “China  is  Reaping  Biggest  Benefits  of  Iraq  Oil  Boom”,  The  New  York   Times,  2  June  2013.     52  Launched  in  2003  and  with  over  100  states  endorsing  it,  the  Proliferation  Security  Initiative  is  a   “multinational  response  to  the  challenge  posed  by  the  threat  of  the  proliferation  of  weapons  of  mass   destruction”.  Endorsers  of  the  PSI  also  “cooperate  with  any  state  whose  ships,  flags,  ports,  territorial   waters,  airspace,  or  land  might  be  used  for  proliferation  purposes  by  states  and  non-­‐state  actors  of   proliferation  concern”:  www.psi-­‐    



serve  as  part  of  China’s  “String  of  Pearls”  strategy  along  its  sea-­‐lanes  .53  In  2005  it  was   reported   that   Beijing   had   already   set   up   “electronic   eavesdropping   posts”   at   Gwadar   that  monitor  “ship  traffic  through  the  Strait  of  Hormuz  and  the  Arabian  Sea”.54     Specifically   with   regards   to   Pakistan,   China   aims   to   create   a   more   secure   atmosphere   by   raising   pro-­‐China   sentiment   and   suppressing   anti-­‐China   voices,   including   those   emanating   from   militant   groups   with   bases   in,   or   links   to,   Pakistan’s   tribal   areas55.     China   is   also   interested   in   using   Islamabad’s   good   relations   with   Muslim   countries,   specifically  Middle  Eastern  nations.     China  is  possibly  rendered  uneasy  by  American  economic  and  military  engagement  in  its   backyard:   Including   the   stationing   of   US   troops   at   Darwin,   Australia,   the   heightened   Trans-­‐Pacific   Partnership   that   excludes   China   and   the   support   to   countries   that   are   in   territorial   dispute   with   China   in   the   South   China   Sea.   In   this   context,   on   26   November   2013,   in   defiance   of   Beijing’s   newly   expanded   Air   Defense   Identification   Zone   (ADIZ),   the  US  flew  two  unarmed  planes  over  the  contested  islands  in  East  China  Sea  (claimed   by   both   Japan   and   China).   The   US   further   hinted   that   more   military   flights   into   China-­‐ claimed   defense   zone   could   be   expected.56     Divergence   in   approach   to   North   Korean   nuclear  and  missile  program  has  also  added  to  tensions  in  US-­‐China  relations.     In   such   a   climate,   Beijing   is   likely   to   protect   its   partnership   with   regional   allies,   like   Islamabad  -­‐  who  has  consistently  backed  Chinese  interests  and  political  position  in  the   region  -­‐  in  order  to  countervail  American  advances.       Pak  role:  offsetting/exploiting  US-­‐China  rivalry   According   to   some   observers   it   is   likely   that   Pakistan   may   continue   to   play   a   role   in   offsetting  Sino-­‐US  rivalry  as  during  the  early  70s  when  it  facilitated  the  US  recognition  of   the   Peoples   Republic   of   China.  57  Fearing   a   Chinese   expansion,   the   US   is   interested   in                                                                                                                  

53  A  2004  Pentagon  report  states  that  China  is  adopting  a  “string  of  pearls”  strategy  of  bases  and   diplomatic  relations  “along  the  sea  lanes  from  Middle  East  to  the  South  China  Sea  in  ways  that  suggest   defensive  and  offensive  positioning  to  protect  China’s  energy  interests,  but  also  to  serve  broad  security   objectives”:  “China  Builds  Up  Strategic  Sea  Lanes”,  The  Washington  Times,  17  January  2005.   54  “China  Builds  Up  Strategic  Sea  Lanes”,  The  Washington  Times,  17  January  2005.   55  Journalists,  interview,  Islamabad,  June/July  2013.   56  “US  Reassures  Japan  Over  China  Dispute”,  Al-­‐Jazeera  English,  27  November  2013.   57  S.  M.  Hali  &  Javed  Akhtar,  interview,  Islamabad,  June  2013.  



containing  Chinese  influence  in  the  region.  As  Pakistan  maintains  close  ties  to  both  the   US  and  China,  it  can  potentially  play  a  middleman’s  role.     The   US   appears   engaged   in   maneuvers   that   show   its   interest   in   the   containment   of   China,58  and  could  possibly  lead  to  friction.  The  US  encourages  a  more  proactive  Indian   role  in  the  region  (e.g.  Hilary  Clinton’s  Madras  speech),  and  its  more  recent  involvement   in  the  contested  territories  of  East  China  Sea.  At  the  same  time,  the  US  is  under  resource   constraint   and   indebted   to   China.   Some   claim   the   US   has   therefore   created   local   warlords  or  “regional  influentials”,  such  as  India,  to  meet  its  interests.59     However,  others  maintain  that  it  is  unlikely  Pakistan  can  play  any  role  to  offset  US-­‐China   rivalry;   the   argument   here   is   that   China   arguably   now   maintains   relatively   normal   relations   with   the   US,   as   compared   to   the   past   when   Pakistan’s   role   as   mediator   was   necessary,   that   it   renders   any   intermediary   role   by   Pakistan   redundant.60  Especially   where   it   concerns   India   and   its   relations   with   the   US,   it   is   unclear   whether   Pakistan   could   act   as   a   neutralizer,   since   it   would   conflict   with   China-­‐Pak   goals.   Further,   China   typically  employs  highly  diplomatic  language,  appearing  reluctant  to  pursue  any  the  line   of  aggression,  verbal  or  otherwise,  and  conversely,  advocates  peace.  In  the  aftermath  of   9/11   when   Pakistan   allied   with   the   US   war   on   terror,   China   did   not   object   and   is   not   known  to  put  Islamabad  under  any  compulsion  to  resist.       Is  India  still  relevant?     A   mainstay   of   Sino-­‐Pak   relations   and   China’s   high   favorability   index   in   Pakistan   is   India.   While   relationship   between   China   and   India   is   not   as   strenuous   as   before,   China   continues  its  unstinting  support  to  Pakistan  vis-­‐à-­‐vis  India.     This  cooperation  dates  back  to  at  least  the  1960s  when  China  threatened  intervention  in   the  1965  Indo-­‐Pak  war.  In  fact  both  countries  have  fought  wars  with  India:  three  Indo-­‐ Pak   wars   to   take   place   in   1947,   1965,   1971,   one   “incident”   in   1999   and   one   Sino-­‐Indo   border  conflict  in  1962.  The  joint  enmity  towards  India  provided  the  initial  thrust  to  a                                                                                                                   58  This  is  the  dominant  view  of  Chinese  security  establishment:  Arvind  Gupta,  “America’s  Asia  Strategy  in  

Obama’s  Second  Term”,  Institute  for  Defense  Studies  and  Analysis,  21  Mars  2013.   59  Ex-­‐government  officials,  interview,  Islamabad,  June/July  2013.   60  Ibid.  



burgeoning   Sino-­‐Pak   friendship.   As   mentioned   above,   under   the   1963   China-­‐Pakistan   Boundary  Agreement  –  that  came  quick  on  the  heels  of  the  China-­‐India  border  conflict  in   ’62   –   Pakistan   ceded   swathes   of   Kashmiri   territory   under   its   control   to   China.   In   the   1971  Indo-­‐Pak  war,  China  came  to  Pakistan’s  assistance  when  the  West  imposed  arms   embargo  on  Pakistan.     Pakistan’s   disillusionment   with   the   West   for   refraining   from   providing   security   to   the   country  during  its  conflicts  with  India  further  propelled  Islamabad  to  Beijing’s  direction.   Pakistan   utilized   the   opportunity   to   arise   with   the   onset   of   Non-­‐Aligned   Movement   (NAM),  and  subsequently  managed  to  create  a  balance  between  two  opposing  blocs.     However,   given   recent   developments   it   is   possible   that   while   a   uniform   and   forceful   factor,  the  India-­‐centrism  is  arguably  no  longer  the  major  impetus  it  once  was  in  driving   Sino-­‐Pak   relations.   The   reasons   for   this   are   multiple:   firstly,   China   has   ambitions   of   becoming   a   stronger   economic   power,   and   therefore   emphasizes   regional   cooperation,   peace  and  stability.  So  while  a  strategic  understanding  between  Pakistan  and  China  vis-­‐ à-­‐vis   India   remains,   the   main   focus   is   on   economic   security.   Since   at   least   2008   and   following  the  Mumbai  terrorist  act,  China  has  emerged  as  a  crisis-­‐manager  in  the  region,   engaged  itself  in  easing  tensions  between  Pakistan  and  India.     Also,  due  to  its  economy-­‐focused  policies  and  political  stance,  China  has  in  the  past    -­‐  and   is  likely  to  in  the  future  -­‐  to  refuse  Pakistani  requests  to  interfere  in  Indo-­‐Pak  military   standoffs.   Similarly,   during   times   of   serious   troughs   in   the   oscillating   Pak-­‐US   relationship,   China   voices   a   cautious  diplomatic  stance,  refraining  to  take  sides,  thus  not   speaking  against  US  or  India.     In  fact  China  continues  to  advise  Pakistan  on  developing  its  economy  by  fostering  good   relations,   including   bilateral   trade,   with   India.61  China   maintains   that   core   contentions                                                                                                                   61  See,  for  example,  Lisa  Curtis  and  Derek  Scissors,  “The  Limits  of  Pakistan-­‐China  Relations”,  The  Heritage  Foundation,  19  January   2012.  Nawaz  Sharif  is  in  fact  continuing  the  strand  of  policy  initiated  by  President  Zardari  of  normalizing  relations  with  India;  The   list  (restrictions)  of  items  to  be  traded  no  longer  exists;  Zardari’s  Pakistan  People’s  Party  (PPP)  converted  positive  list  of  import  from   India  to  negative  list.  It  is  expected  that  Sharif’s  government  will  make  greater  strides  in  continuing  this  trend.  Bilateral  trade   between  India  and  Pakistan  lies  at  $2.6bn.  This  amount  was  only  $200mn  in  2004.  There  is  also  undocumented  trade  via  Dubai  that   is  not  official  and  beneficial  to  3rd  party.  Also,  porous  border  allows  for  smuggling.  Trade  target  for  2015  is  $6bn,  even  though  the  



between   India   and   Pakistan,   such   as   the   Kashmir   flashpoint,   can   be   settled   or   abated   through   the   pursuit   of   commercial   interests.   China   itself   appears   to   follow   this   principle   vis-­‐à-­‐vis  Taiwan.  In  this  vein  Beijing  has  suggested  Pakistan  to  shelf  Kashmir  as  a  border   dispute   and   to   instead   concentrate   on   correcting   the   ailing   Pakistani   economy.   With   numerous  Chinese  workers  operating  in  Azad  Kashmir,  and  talks  of  opening  the  region   to   greater   commercial   projects,   Pakistan   is   under   pressure   to   be   stable   for   the   sake   of   furthering  developments  along  the  Sino-­‐Pak  economic  corridor.     The   notion   that   India   as   a   common   adversary   to   bind   Pak-­‐China   friendship   may   carry   greater  weight  for  Pakistan  than  for  China.  Indo-­‐Chinese  trade  far  exceeds  that  of  Pak-­‐ China;   despite   the   border   issues   India   and   China   can   be   said   to   enjoy   relatively   more   stable   relations   than   before.   Sino-­‐Indian   trade   is   significant   and   projected   to   rise   to   100bn  USD  by  2015.  China’s  economic  development  is  also  relatively  premature  at  this   stage,   and   the   country   is   largely   preoccupied   with   a   peaceful   rise   of   its   stature.   Beijing’s   ethos   dictates   working   within   the   parameters   of   an   economic   interdependence   model;   so  while  India  features  high  on  its  priority  list,  it  is  not  so  pronounced.       China   is   considerably   more   powerful   than   India   than   during   previous   conflicts,   hence   reducing   the   Chinese   threat   perception   of   India.   Also,   while   the   US   attempts   to   supplant   India  as  its  major  South  Asia  ally  and  use  it  as  a  proxy  to  counter-­‐weigh  China,  Indians   are  arguably  not  fully  on  board,  further  diluting  the  threat  perception.     Regardless   of   Chinese   focus,   it   is   not   given   that   a   political   détente   follows   economic   interdependence.  The  realistic  threat  of  India  gaining  more  influence  in  the  region  looms   overhead,  and  China  still  has  bones  to  pick  with  the  country.  China  reconciled  most  of  its   border  issues   with   myriad   countries  in  the  region  -­‐  e.g.  Kazakhstan,  Mongolia,  and  so  on   –  however,  its  border  disputes  with  India,  like  Himachal  Pradesh,  still  remain  a  burning   topic.   China   is   ostensibly   keen   to   ensure   that   any   Indian   ambitions   of   achieving   regional   hegemony  in  the  subcontinent  remain  at  bay;  and  its  array  of  ports  that  Beijing  is  setting   up   in   countries   around   the   Indian   Ocean,   including   naval   facilities   in   countries   like                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             potential  is  greater.  With  such  amounts,  the  potential  costs  of  an  Indo-­‐Pakistani  war  are  raised.  The  most  favored  nation  status  to   India  is  also  in  the  offing.    




Burma,   Bangladesh,   Seychelles,   Sri   Lanka   is   arguably   to   this   end.62  From   the   Pakistani   perspective,   regional   policy   remains   largely   pivoted   on   India;   it   therefore   requires   Chinese  friendship  and  economic/political  support  and  military  hardware  from  the  US,   to  counter  the  perceived  Indian  threat.       Terrorism/Counter-­‐Terrorism   While   the   “enviable”   60-­‐year   history   of   mutual   trust,   cooperation   and   solidarity   is   ritually   hailed   by   Pakistan   and   China,   Islamabad   remains   cognizant   of   the   menaces   of   terrorism,   separatism,   and   drug   trafficking,   among   other   cross-­‐border   crimes.   It   repeatedly  assures  Beijing  of  its  concerted  effort  to  tackle  these  problems  from  its  side;   for  the  most  part  Beijing  is  said  to  respect  Pakistani  efforts  on  these  fronts.63  A  July  2010   Joint   Statement   affirmed   the   two   countries   resolve   to   together   counter   forces   of   militancy  and  separatism;  China  has  aided  in  capacity  building  in  this  regard  and  joint   counter   terrorism   military   exercises   have   been   held   between   the   Pakistan   Army   and   People’s  Liberation  Army.     China   remains   worried   because   militant   Uighur   Muslims   from   the   Chinese   province   of   Xinjiang   are   still   receiving   training   in   Pakistan.   To   an   extent   China   relies   on   Pakistani   support   to   counter   the   Uighur   separatist   movement;   Xinjiang   borders   Pakistan’s   northwest  region  and  is  home  to  about  9  million  Uighurs  in  whom  separatist  sentiment   runs  deep.     Uighur  militants  remain  among  groups  of  foreign  militants  in  Pakistan’s  tribal  areas  and   Kashmir.   A   stronger   alliance   between   al-­‐Qaeda,   Tehrik-­‐e-­‐Taliban   Pakistan   (TTP)   and   Uighur   extremists   has   meant   greater   financial   support   and   military   strength   for   Turkistani  mujahideen.       Media   propaganda   by   Turkistani   mujahideen,   namely   Uighur   East   Turkestan   Islamic   Movement   (ETIM)   as   well   as   video   releases   by   al-­‐Qaeda   leaders   and   Urdu   jihadi   magazines   highlighting   the   “plight”   of   Muslims   in   China   and   endorsing   support   for   the                                                                                                                   62  Ishaan  Tharoor,  “After  Fighting  Over  Mountains,  India  and  China  Locks  Horns  in  the  Indian  Ocean”,  

Time,  16  May  2013.     63  Amb  Khalid  Mahmood,  NDU  seminar,  April  2012.  



Turkistani   mujahideen   in   China,   is   readily   available   online.64  A   key   ideological   drive   of   al-­‐Qaeda  and  TTP  is  to  spread  global  jihad  with  the  aim  of  rescuing  “oppressed”  Muslims   in   foreign   lands   and   return   states   deemed   historically   Islamic   back   to   their   “true”   identity.     Al-­‐Qaeda   appears   likely   to   contract   Turkistani   mujahideen   in   a   symbiotic   relationship   similar   to   that   observed   in   Pakistan   between   al-­‐Qaeda   and   Pakistan-­‐based   sectarian   group   Lashkar-­‐e-­‐Jhangvi   (LeJ),   that   was   co-­‐opted   by   al-­‐Qaeda   to   further   its   agenda   in   Pakistan  by  targeting  US  interests  while  providing  LeJ  activities  with  al-­‐Qaeda-­‐inspired   vigor  (manifested  in  the  rise  in  mass-­‐casualty  sectarian  violence  across  Pakistan).   While   LeJ   drives   hatred   along   religious   lines,   ETIM   incites   violence   among   Han   and   Uygur   ethnic   groups.    ETIM   was   responsible   for   a   series   of   bombings   in   Xinjiang   and   the   group   also   claimed   responsibility   for   a   series   of   attacks   in   several   Chinese   cities,   including   bus   explosions  in  Shanghai  and  Kunming.     Training  and  financial  support  from  the  al-­‐Qaeda  network  across  Pakistan  and  Central   Asia   to   ETIM/TIP   militants   increases   the   risks   to   Chinese   economic   –   and   strategic   interests,  as  well  as  potentially  undermining  Sino-­‐Pak  relations.  However,  compared  to   other  countries  and  topics,  China  does  not  feature  so  prominently  in  jihadi  media.65       As   terrorist   attacks   have   increased   in   recent   years,   counterterrorism   cooperation   between  Pakistan  and  China  is  likely  to  remain.  Despite  linking  Uigur  separatist  groups   in  Xinjiang  to  al-­‐Qaeda  and  jihadi  training  camps  in  Pakistan66  China  has  remained  mild   in  its  reproach  and  relationship  between  Pakistan  and  China  is  considered  very  close  on   the   counterterrorism   front;   any   Uighur   militants   caught   in   Pakistan   are   delivered   to   China.  67     In   2003   Pakistani   killed   the   chief,   Hassan   Mahsum,   of   the   ETIM,   leading   to   a   drop  in  protests  in  Xinjiang.  Joint  military  exercises  and  boosting  the  Pakistani  Army’s   capacity   in   the   field   are   conducted   in   order   to   ensure   that   adequate   measures   are   taken   to  eradicate  terrorist  threat.  There  is  also  an  ongoing  debate  in  Pakistan  regarding  the  

                                                                                                                64  Hittin  Magazin,  “China:  Friend  or  Foe?”  December  2009.   65  This  is  based  on  the  author’s  familiarity  with  available  Urdu  jihadi  literature/videos.    

66  Preeti  Bhatacharji,  “Uighurs  and  China’s  Xinjiang  Region”,  Council  on  Foreign  Relations,  29  May  2013.   67  Government  officials,  interviews,  Islamabad,  June/July  2013.    



need  to  vamp  up  security  and  protect  Chinese  workers,  not  only  by  employing  police  but   also  special  security  forces  personnel.68     Signs  thus  far  indicate  that  Beijing  is  confident  in  Islamabad’s  intentions  to  help  China  in   countering  the  terrorist  threat.  Pakistani  officials  allegedly  flew  to  China  after  a  recent   act   of   terrorism   that   claimed   many   Chinese   lives,   among   others,   and   compensated   families  of  those  affected69  –  convincing  Beijing  of  Pakistan’s  seriousness  in  dealing  with   militancy.       It  is  likely  that  due  to  the  “regular  sharing  of  information  about  the  ETIM”  between  the   Pakistani  intelligence  services  and  their  Chinese  counterparts70and  Chinese  satisfaction   with   Pakistani   efforts   at   countering   jihadi   threats   against   China/Chinese,   Pakistan’s   inherent  instability  and  jihadi  havens  do  not  so  far  appear  to  deter  China  from  forming   deep  relations  with  the  country.     Befriending   China   appears   to   cut   across   the   diverse   political   arena;   the   affinity   amongst   religious   parties   like   Jamaat-­‐e-­‐Islami   and   China   also   lessens   the   likelihood   of   China   functioning  as  a  key  enemy  for  Pakistan-­‐based  extremist  groups.     Outside  involvement   Another  reason  why  the  impact  of  Pakistani-­‐borne  extremism  on  China  has  not  damaged   Sino-­‐Pak   relations   is   the   commonly   held   belief   that   “outside   involvement”   is   fuelling   anti-­‐China  groups  emanating  from  the  area.     There  appears  to  be  a  tacit  understanding  that  the  US  and  India  are  engaged  in  activities   aimed  at  sabotaging  Pak-­‐China  relations  by  Chinese  personnel  in  Pakistan.71     The  2013   incident   in   Nanga   Parbat   was   received   by   many   as   being   promulgated   by   US-­‐India   backing,   especially   as   it   closely   preceded   the   Prime   Minister’s   maiden   visit   to   China   where   talks   on   the   economic   corridor   were   to   progress.   Similarly,   the   killing   of   three   Chinese   in   Pakistan   preceded   former   President   Musharraf’s   visit   to   China   in   2006,                                                                                                                   68  PTV  News,  4  July  2013.   69  Ibid.  

70  “China  Urges  Pakistan  to  Expel  Uighur  Islamic  Militants”,  BBC,  31  May  2012   71  Journalists  and  government  officials,  interview,  Islamabad,  June/July  2013.    



primarily   undertaken   to   promote   investor-­‐friendly   policies.   Such   incidents   are   viewed   as   part   of   a   concerted,   “outside”   effort   to   thwart   Sino-­‐Pak   relations.   Hindering   the   Gwadar   project   and   viability   of   the   economic   corridor   is   thought   to   be   of   particular   interest  as  it  can  potentially  offset  growing  Chinese  influence  in  the  region.  Anti-­‐states   groups   are   widely   perceived   as   being   financially   strong   with   advanced   weaponry   and   high   salaries,   hinting   at   either   Indian   or   western   funded/backed.72  India,   in   particular,   has   long   been   accused   by   Pakistan   for   meddling   in   its   Balochistan   province,   as   well   as   other  anti-­‐state  groups  operating  in  Pakistan,  such  as  the  Pakistani  Taliban,  stoking  anti-­‐ Pakistan   elements   and   fomenting   violence   in   the   country.73  US   Secretary   of   Defense,   Chuck  Hagel,  in  a  2011  speech  claimed  India  had  “over  the  years  financed  problems  for   Pakistan”,   sponsoring   terrorist   activity   against   Pakistan   in   Afghanistan.74  Hagel’s   speech   resonated   across   large   segments   of   the   Pakistani   population   and   featured   highly   in   domestic  media.75     It  is  naturally  difficult  if  not  impossible  to  validate  such  claims  that  point  to  US,  Indian  or   even   Saudi   and   UAE   interference   in   Pakistan’s   internal   affairs.   However,   it   may   be   important  to  note  that  such  allegations  are  rife  and  shared  amid  upper  echelons  of  the   establishment;   possible   reflecting   a   deep   understanding   of   regional   dynamics   that   is   guiding  policy-­‐making.       Economic  Relations   “We   hope   to   create   a   giant   economic   corridor   that   would   not   only   enhance   China’s   strategic   significance  but  would  also  help  in  restoring  peace  and  stability  to  Asia.”76  

  In   2012   trade   volume   between   the   China   and   Pakistan   surpassed   US$12   billion   with   Pakistani   exports   increasing   by   48%   (2011-­‐2012)77,   and   Chinese   investment   touched                                                                                                                   72  Pakistani  officials  regularly  blame  India,  Afghanistan,  as  well  as  Israel,  for  arming  and  promoting  anti-­‐

state  insurgencies  in  Pakistan.  See  “Pak  Pamphlets  Allege  India,  Israel  Funding  Taliban”,  NDTV,  3  March   2010;  “’US,  not  Taliban,  Attacked  my  Convoy’:  Qazi”,  Geo  TV,  19  November  2012;       73  However,  no  evidence  has  hitherto  been  provided  by  Pakistan  of  India’s  alleged  engagement.   74  “Chuck  Hagel’s  Indian  Problem”,  Washington  Free  Beacon,  25  February  2013.   75  “’India  Financed  Problems  for  Pakistan  from  Afghanistan’:  Chuck  Hagel”,  The  Express  Tribune,  26   February  2013;  “India  Sponsored  Terror  Attacks  in  Pakistan:  Hagel”,  The  Nation  Pakistan,  27  February   2013.   76  Chinese  premier,  Li  Keqiang,  during  a  two-­‐day  visit  to  Pakistan,  22  May  2013;  Syed  Fazl-­‐e-­‐Haider,   “Chin’s  Premier  Li  Keqiang  in  Pakistan”,  Asia  Times  Online,  23  May  2013.   77  Trade  Between  Pakistan  and  Consular  Districts,  Consulate  General  of  Pakistan,  Shanghai  website,    



the   figure   of   $2   billion.   While   Sino-­‐Pak   trade   may   exceed   that   of   Pak-­‐US,   Pakistan’s   exports   to   the   US   are   greater   than   exports   to   China.   That   is,   the   total   trade   volume   between  the  Pakistan  and  China  significantly  tilts  in  the  latter’s  favor.  Some  argue  that   this   imbalance   is   not   necessarily   a   bad   sign,   since   China’s   trade   balance   with   most   countries  (India,  included)  is  tilted  in  its  favor.78       Under   an   increasingly   comprehensive   framework   Pakistan   and   China   have   bilateral   economic  cooperation  in  the  form  of  Joint  Economic  Commission,  Economic  Cooperation   Group,   Joint   Energy   Working   Group   and   a   Joint   Investment   Company,   in   addition   to   other   mechanisms.   Frameworks   to   better   economic   cooperation   exist   -­‐   namely,   Framework   Agreement   on   Expanding   and   Deepening   Bilateral   Economic   and   Trade   Cooperation  (signed  February  2006),  Free  Trade  Agreement  (November  2006)  and  the   extended  Joint  Five  Year  Economic  Plan  are  also  in  place.         The   year   2006   saw   the   signing   of   the   bilateral   Free   Trade   Agreement   (FTA)79  and   the   5-­‐ year   Development   Program   on   Economic   and   Trade   Cooperation   –   directed   at   accelerating   bilateral   trade   between   Pakistan   and   China.   They   were   put   to   force   the   following  year  in  2007.  It  set  a  trade  target  of  $15b  by  2010;  while  this  target  was  not   achieved,  bilateral  trade  –  that  stood  at  ca.  $7b  in  2006  –  rose  to  $12b  by  2012,  which   was   also   a   17.6%   increase   on   the   previous   year.80     In   2006   China   was   Pakistan’s   3rd   largest  trading  partner,  accounting  for  9.8%  of  Pakistan’s  imports.  It  ranked  11th  (3%)   for  Pakistan’s  exports.  In  comparison,  Pakistan  was  Chinas  54th  largest  trading  partner   (0.13%   of   China’s   imports)   and   33rd   largest   for   exports   (0.44%).81  By   2013,   China   was   Pakistan’s  2nd  largest  trading  partner.  From  2004  –  2008  exports  from  China  to  Pakistan   increased  on  average  55%  per  annum  while  exports  from  Pakistan  to  China  rose  by  35%   (see  table  below).       The  Development  Program  was  renewed  in  late  2010and  included  36  different  projects   –   covering   education,   health   care,   energy,   water,   environment   and   information   and                                                                                                                   78  Journalists,  interview,  Islamabad,  June/July  2013.   79  The  FTA  remains  controversial  in  Pakistan  since  it  is  not  as  beneficial  to  Pakistan  as  China;  imports  far   exceed  exports.  In  comparison,  Pakistan’s  trade  with  the  US  and  EU  is  in  Pakistani  favor.   80  Pu  Zhendong  (2013)  “Pakistani  Ambassador  Urges  Much  More  Trade,”  China  Daily,  25  March  2013.   81  Free  Trade  Agreement  Between  China  and  Pakistan  (Goods),  World  Trade  Organization,  1  December   2008.  



communications  technology.  82     The  two  countries  again  set  to  pursue  a  trade  target  of   $15bn,   this   time   by   the   year   2015.   Most   likely   due   to   Pakistan’s   long   ailing   economy,   Pakistani   officials   have   been   more   expressive   in   pushing   for   greater   investment   trade   between   the   two   countries,   eagerly   pursuing   the   $15b   target   and   inviting   and   encouraging  China  to  explore  more  and  more  economic  opportunities  in  Pakistan.83     Presently,   Pakistan   is   the   only   country   in   South   Asia   with   a   free   trade   agreement   and   currency  swap  agreement  with  China.  The  Agreement  contained  annexes  that  included   the   elimination   of   import   custom   duties;   tariff   reduction   or   elimination   was   set   to   complete   within   a   five-­‐year   period,   effectively   by   January   2012.84  In   May   2013   China   stated   it   will   “step   up   consultation   with   Pakistan   on   second   phase   tax   reduction   negotiations.”85  To   stimulate   trade   growth,   on   7   May   2013,   State   Bank   of   Pakistan   and   People’s   Bank   of   China   (PBoC)   agreed   on   a   currency   swap   arrangement   (CSA) 86 ;   implying  the  two  countries  can  now  trade  directly  without  the  use  of  US  dollars  as  the   intermediary  trade  currency.     However,  amid  political  and  economic  corridors  there  is  therefore  a  salient  recognition   that   the   trade   potential   between   Pak-­‐China   has   not   been   fully   realized.   Bilateral   economic   cooperation   and   trade,   along   with   people-­‐to-­‐people   contact,   is   frequently   identified  as  “weak  points”  in  Pak-­‐China  relations.87       The  trade  imbalance  is  one  of  Islamabad’s  concerns  and  measures  to  lessen  the  gap  are   frequently   discussed   and   calculated   efforts   are   being   made   to   raise   export   levels   to   China.  To  bring  economic  cooperation  on  par  with  political  and  defense  cooperation  is   now   on   the   front   burner   Islamabad’s   policy   vis-­‐à-­‐vis   China.88     Pakistan,   takes   this   imbalance  seriously  and  there  is  pressure  on  the  Pakistani  government,  in  particular  the                                                                                                                   82  Joint  Statement  between  the  People's  Republic  of  China  and  the  Islamic  Republic  of  Pakistan  (2010),   Embassy  of  PR  China  in  IR  Pakistan  website,,  21  December  2010.   83  See  for  example:  “Pakistan-­‐China  Trade  Reaches  US$  10.6  Billion,”  Associated  Press  of  Pakistan,  31   January  2012;  Pu  Zhendong  (2013)  “Pakistani  Ambassador  Urges  Much  More  Trade,”  China  Daily,  25   March  2013;  Ding  Qingfen  (2011),  “Pakistan  Seeks  Investment  Lift,”  China  Daily,  20  May  2011.   84  Free  Trade  Agreement  Between  China  and  Pakistan  (Goods),  World  Trade  Organization,  1  December   2008.   85  “Full  Text  of  Chinese  Premier´s  Interview  with  Pakistani  Media,”  Xinhuanet,  22  May  2013.   86  Erum  Zaidi,  “Pak-­‐China  currency  swap  accord  implemented,”  The  News,  8  May  2013.   87  Amb  Khalid  Mahmood,  NDU  seminar,  April  2012;  PTV  News  June/July  2013.   88  Amb  Khalid  Mahmood,  interview,  Islamabad,  July  2013.  



Punjab  Board  of  Trade  and  Investment,  to  overcome  any/all  obstacles  to  greater  trade.89     Officials   from   the   Pakistan   Ministry   of   Commerce   have   called   on   the   need   for   a   comprehensive   database   on   all   items   that   can   be   traded   to   China;   for   Pakistan   to   improve  its  business  practices;  better  linkages;  as  well  as  overcome  the  language  barrier   and   contribute   to   cross   border   exhibitions   and   so   on.90  Emphasis   lies   on   materializing   and  providing  security  to  the  land  route  connecting  the  two  countries,  so  that  people-­‐to-­‐ people  contact  can  increase,  thus  strengthening  the  bond  the  two  nations.       The  discourse  in  Islamabad  centers  on  increasing  Pakistani  “exportables”  and  the  need   for   the   government   to   step   up   diversification   efforts.   A   priority   is   to   work   towards   export-­‐oriented   development   –   including   raw   materials,   building   factories,   improving   structural  design  and  range,  value  added  –  geared  towards  China,  and  then  “fast  track”   the  process.91     The   conventional   wisdom   in   Islamabad   appears   to   be   that   it   should   endeavor   to   take   more   advantage   of   China’s   rapidly   growing   demand   for   imports   of   foreign   goods     (standing  at  $1.78  trillion  import  trade  volume  as  of  February  2013).  If  Pakistan  could   receive   only   a   slight   slice   of   this   amount,   the   country’s   economy   would   benefit   significantly.  China  is  to  help  Pakistan  with  the  latter’s  power  crisis  by  building/running   Basha  and  Bunji  dams.       Figure  1  shows  the  exchange  in  trade  volume  between  Pakistan  and  China  from  2006-­‐ 2012:   Year  


from   Exports   to   China   Total   trade   vol.  

China  $  























                                                                                                                89  PTV  News,  4  July  2013.   90  PTV  News,  4  July  2013.   91  PTV  News,  4  July  2013.  











Figure  1  Sino-­‐Pak  trade92       In  March  2013,  Pakistani  ambassador  to  China,  Masood  Khalid,  encouraged  the  Chinese   business  community  to  further  explore  opportunities  and  diversify  cooperation  between   the   two   countries;   in   particular   he   encouraged   improving   “connectivity”   between   China’s   Xinjiang   Uygur   region   that   borders   Pakistan’s   Northern   Areas.93  In   fact   the   Pakistani   government   is   known   to   invite   and   even   persuade   Chinese   investors   by   offering   assistance   and   special   incentives.   “Pakistan’s   business   environment   is   very   liberal,   with   all   sector   open   to   investment   and   no   limitations   on   foreign   equity.   (…)   Chinese   entrepreneurs   can   invest   in   special   economic   zones   and   our   embassy   will   provide   assistance”.94  Previously   Pakistan   had   provided   China   with   its   first   Overseas   Economic   and   Trade   Cooperation   Area   (OETCA)   –   the   Haier-­‐Ruba   Economic   Zone   (HRZ).95     There  are  an  estimated  10,000  Chinese  people  and  more  than  120  Chinese  companies  in   Pakistan,   many   working   on   infrastructure   and   energy   projects.   Orient   Group   has   invested  more  than  $700m  in  energy  in  Pakistan,  and  was  hailed  by  President  Zardari  in   2012   for   leading   Chinese   investment   in   Pakistan. 96  Zardari   further   encouraged   the   Group  to  explore  and  invest  in  other  projects:  “We  look  forward  to  benefit  from  Orient   Group’s  expertise  in  port  development,  financial  services,  banking  and  investment”.97     In  return,  China  voiced  that  it  will  cooperate  with  Pakistan  in  “all”  fields  and  support  the   latter   in   its   efforts   to   create   “national   stability   and   promote   economic   and   social   development”.98  Earlier,   in   May   2013   China   asserted   that   it   takes   its   trade   imbalance   with   Pakistan   seriously   and   is   taking   measures   to   address   the   issue.   The   Chinese   premier’s  visit  to  Pakistan  in  May  2013  shortly  after  Pakistani  parliamentary  elections                                                                                                                  

92  The  table  is  based  on  official  trade  figures  retrieved  by  author.   93  Pu  Zhendong  (2013)  “Pakistani  Ambassador  Urges  Much  More  Trade,”  China  Daily,  25  March  2013.   94  Ibid.   95  “Celebrating  60th  Anniversary  of  China,”  Pakistan  Textile  Journal,  September  2009.   96  “Zardari  Appreciated  Orient  Group  for  Leading  Investment  in  Pakistan,”  Daily  Times,  8  May  2012.   97  Ibid.  

98  “Foreign  Ministry  Spokesperson  Hong  Lei's  Regular  Press  Conference  on  June  6,  2013”  Ministry  of  

Foreign  Affairs  of  the  Peoples  Republic  of  China  website,  7  June  2013.  



where  Nawaz  Sharif’s  PML-­‐N  won  a  majority,  was  hailed  by  both  nations  for  congealing   an  important  agreement  centered  on  the  building  of  an  economic  corridor.99  This  visit  is   seen  as  pivotal  where  China  announced/made  official  the  plan  of  constructing  such  an   economic   corridor.   The   Chinese   premier’s   visit   is   also   symbolic,   occurring   during   a   time   of  a  Pakistani  interim  government.  It  offered  little  substantiated  in  terms  of  deals.100     To   prepare   for   the   visit,   a   task   force   led   by   the   Pakistani   Minister   for   Planning   and   Development   visited   China   24-­‐26   June.    On   4   July   2013   newly   elected   Prime   Minister,   Nawaz  Sharif,  visited  China;  this  was  his  first  overseas  destination  as  head  of  state.  China   is  usually  prioritized  as  a  top  port  of  call  for  civilian  government  or  Army.101  The  PM’s   engagements  included  meetings  with  leaders  of  Chinese  financial  and  corporate  sectors   and  visits  to  major  industrial  centers  and  Special  Economic  Zones.  It  is  worth  noting  that   Balochistan   chief   minister   was   part   of   the   Pakistani   delegation   visiting   China. 102   Executives  of  Chinas  big  banks  met  with  the  delegation.  The  meeting  aimed  not  only  to   finalize   key   economic,   but   also   regional   issues.103  China   has   recently   given   green   light   to   several  projects;  task  forces  on  either  sides,  energy  and  infrastructure  projects.         China  has  had  an  imprint  in  the  fields  of  heavy  industry,  energy  (including  nuclear)  and   infrastructure,  promoting  Pakistani  self-­‐sufficiency  on  different  fronts.  Chinese  projects   inside   Pakistan   total   $19.87   billion   as   of   2012. 104  Future   cooperation   is   geared   at   coordination   in   space   science   and   technology,   maritime   security,   climate   change,   UN   reform,   and,   most   critically,   in   overcoming   Pakistan’s   energy   crisis.   An   Energy   Cooperation  Mechanism  is  in  place  to  promote  collaboration  in  conventional,  renewable   and  civil  nuclear  energy.      

                                                                                                                99  “Foreign  Ministry  Spokesperson  Hong  Lei's  Regular  Press  Conference  on  June  6,  2013”  Ministry  of   Foreign  Affairs  of  the  Peoples  Republic  of  China  website,  7  June  2013.   100  Fazalur  Rehman,  Strategic  Studies  Institute,  Islamabad,  interview,  4  July  2013.   101  Ibid.   102  The  strategic  port  of  Gwadar  is  located  in  Balochistan  province  where  the  security  situation  remains   finicky  with  sectarian  violence,  separatist  movement,  and  the  presence  of  Quetta  Shura.  Balochs  have  long   maintained  resentment  against  the  government  for  being  politically  and  economically  marginalized;   including  Baloch  CM  in  the  delegation  signals  that  Islamabad  is  serious  about  Gwadar  and  ensuring   security  in  the  area.   103  PTV  News,  4  July  2013.   104  Amb  Khalid  Mahmood,  NDU  seminar.  



Over   120   Chinese   companies   are   presently   engaged   in   Pakistan.   Mineral   Resources   Development   are   underway   to   help   Pakistan   with   its   energy   needs   and   explore   alternative  energy  sources;  examples  include  the  Saindak  Copper  and  Gold  Mine  Project;   Duda   lead-­‐zinc   mine   project;   and   Thal   coal   mining   project.     Within   communications   it   also   has   a   strong   presence;   e.g.   China   Mobile   invested   more   than   $700m   in   communication  in  Pakistan.  Industrial  and  Commercial  Bank  of  China  (ICBC)  has  opened   branches  in  Islamabad  and  Karachi.  China  offers  help  with  regards  to  Forex,  keeping  it  at   a   point   that   enables   better   exchange   rates.   However,   in   response   to   news   of   immense   Chinese   foreign   exchange   reserves   going   to   South   American   and   African   countries,   Pakistanis  argue  that  they  should  receive  a  larger  share.105       It   is   in   Chinese   interests,   too,   to   strengthen   economic   ties   with   Pakistan.   China   has   for   the  large  part  been  preoccupied  with  its  eastern  region,  while  central  and  western  China   have   been   relatively   ignored   and   remain   under-­‐developed. 106  According   to   some   experts,  Gwadar  presents  an  opportunity  to  remedy  this:  China  stands  to  save  a  lot  by   rerouting   trade   from   Urumqi   to   Gwadar.   That   route   to   the   Persian   Gulf   is   2,500km   long,   as  opposed  to  the  currently  used  eastern  channel  that  is  10,000km  and  where  tankers   are  vulnerable  as  the  naval  route  is  lined  with  US  bases.  Gwadar  route  then  offers  a  safer   and   shorter   alternative,   and   one   from   which   China   can   benefit   commercially,   communication  wise  as  well  as  meet  its  energy  needs.107     Land   trade   between   China   and   Pakistan   has   been   growing   steadily   in   recent   years,   reaching   about   $400mn   as   of   2013108  and   there   are   talks   of   expanding   road   linkages.   The  Khunjerab  pass  connects  Pakistan  to  China  is  built  on  the  Chinese  side  but  not  the   Pakistani   side:   Currently,   the   road   is   being   widened   around   the   Sust   checkpoint   area   (expanding  to  include  4  lanes).       Karakoram   Highways   are   notorious   for   their   rough   terrain   and   high   altitude;   there   is   therefore   skepticism   in   certain   quarters   that   the   economic   corridor   is   a   “gimmick”   –   implying   that   the   inhospitable   terrain   renders   it   impossible   to   connect   all   the   cities   in                                                                                                                   105  PTV  News,  July  2013.   106  Amb.  Khalid  Mahmood,  interview,  Islamabad,  July  2013.   107  Defence  analysts,  interview,  Islamabad,  June/July  2013.  

108  “Increasing  Trade:  $15  Billion  Trade  Target  With  China  Achievable  Says  Envoy,”  The  Express  Tribune,  

16  April  2013.  



the  area.109     However,  others  argue  the  project  is  considered  feasible  when  considering   Chinese   feats   in   constructing   rail   networks   in   possibly   even   more   difficult   terrains.   China  has  already  proven  capable  to  build  high  elevation  railway  from  Qinghai  to  Tibet   that  supposedly  has  far  trickier  terrain  than  the  potential  China  to  Pakistan  route.110     All   the   above   reflects   China’s   broader   goal   to   “further   expand   cooperative   areas”   with   South   Asian   nations111;   given   Prime   Minister   Nawaz   Sharif’s   focus   on   economy   and   China’s   economically   driven   foreign   policies,   future   collaboration   and   fortification   and   on  this  front  is  expected.     Gwadar:  game-­‐changer?     Gwadar  is  often  termed  a  “game-­‐changer”  in  Pakistan.  China  and  Pakistan  are  committed   to   the   economic   corridor   that   is   likely   to   materialize   in   the   coming   3-­‐5   years.   While   China   needs   the   alternative   route   from   an   economic   and   energy   perspective,   Pakistan   needs  the  opportunities  and  cash  generated  by  Gwadar  port.    There  is  a  broad  consensus   across  Pakistani  Army,  civilian  government  and  civilian  society  for  the  Gwadar  project  to   be  realized.     China   financed   the   construction   of   the   Gwadar   port   in   Pakistan’s   Balochistan   province   that  was  inaugurated  in  2008;  China  took  over  its  operational  control  last  year.112  After   being   operated   by   a   Singaporean   company,   PSA   International,   for   many   years,   the   Gwadar   port   was   succeeded   to   state-­‐run   Chinese   Overseas   Port   Holdings   (COPHC)   in   February  2013.     Pakistan’s  geographic  importance  centers  on  its  lying  astride  China,  South  Asia,  Central   Asia,   West   Asia   and   at   the   mouth   of   the   Persian   Gulf   -­‐   thus,   having   the   potential   to   become   a   hub   of   trade,   transportation   and   a   energy   corridor   linking   these   regions.     Gwadar  is  a  port  city  in  Pakistan’s  Balochistan  province,  which  borders  Iran.  It  lies  at  the   apex  of  the  Arabian  Peninsula  and  is  close  (180  nautical  miles)  to  the  Strait  of  Hormuz.  

                                                                                                                109  Ex-­‐government  official,  interviews,  Islamabad,  June/July  2013.   110  Amb.  Khalid  Mahmood,  interview,  Islamabad,  July  2013.   111  Xinhuanet,  11  June  2013.  

112  Xu  Tianrah,  “China  Takes  Over  Gwadar  Port”,  Global  Times,  19  February  2013.  



The  Strait  of  Hormuz  gateway  accounts  for  up  to  35  %  of  the  world’s  sea  bound  oil.113   Distance   between   Xinjiang   province   and   Karachi   or   Gwadar   is   2500   km   compared   to   4500  from  China’s  eastern  seaboard.       In  2009,  China  became  the  second  largest  consumer  of  oil  after  the  United  States,  and  its   consumption   is   likely   to   double   by   2030,   which   would   make   it   the   world’s   largest   oil   consumer.    About  80%  of  oil  imports  to  China  arrive  via  sea  routes  from  the  Middle  East   and  Africa,  and  this  dependence  on  imported  oil  is  likely  to  increase.114     With   changing   geopolitics   and   US   presence,   China   has   a   growing   need   for   land-­‐based   trade   routes.115  For   Pakistan,   the   benefits   of   Gwadar   would   chiefly   be   that   of   a   transit   country   and   a   trading   partner.   Afghanistan   and   Central   Asian   Republics   (CARs)   will   also   find   outlet   in   Pakistan.     The   wider   thinking   is   that   Gwadar   will   act   as   a   key   player   of   Sino-­‐Pakistani  bilateral  relations  as  well  as  impacting  the  region  as  a  whole;  not  only  can   it   serve   as   a   commercial   hub   benefitting   Pakistani   and   Chinese   but   also   as   a   possible   strategic   naval   centre   for   the   latter   to   counter   American   influence   (aforementioned   “string  of  pearls”  theory).     While   Gwadar   offers   military/strategic   possibilities,   its   main   purpose   is   seen   as   economic   hub,   as   Pakistan   direly   needs   the   cash   and   the   future   map   of   the   region   appears   to   be   drawn   on   economic   inter-­‐dependence.   However,   to   ensure   the   viability   of   and   reap   profits   of   Gwadar,   it   is   increasingly   important   for   Pakistan   to   secure   the   provision  of  to  the  roughly  7,000  Chinese  engineers  and  workers  engaged  in  about  250   projects  in  Pakistan.         Defense  Relations   “Pakistan  is  our  Israel.”116  

                                                                                                                  113  P.  Mieglo,  F.  Portero,  G.  del  Caz  Esteso.  “Geopolitical  Consequences  of  the  United  States’  Energy   Independence”,  Foundation  for  Social  Studies  and  Analysis,  6  September  2013.   114  “Walking  Between  the  Raindrops”,  The  Economist,  27  May  2010.   115  Fazlur  Rehman,  SSII,  interview,  July  2013.   116  Sarcastic  remark  by  a  Chinese  diplomat  in  response  to  criticism  by  a  US  delegation  regarding  Beijing’s   unstinting  defense  support  to  Pakistan;  Al-­‐Jazeera  English,  28  October  2010.  



The   most   “time-­‐tested”   aspect   of   Sino-­‐Pak   relationship   remains   within   the   defense   sector.   China   is   known   to   provide   material   support   to   Pakistan’s   Army,   Navy   and   Air   Force.  A  few  current  facts  reflect  this  notion;  in  2013,  Pakistan  emerged  as  the  largest   recipient   of   Chinese   arms   export.   Pakistan   is   also   thought   to   benefit   from   China’s   plutonium-­‐based  nuclear  program.  It  is  widely  held  that  support  from  China  contributed   to   Pakistan   being   nuclear-­‐capable. 117  China   remains   a   vital   source   of   military   and   nuclear  technology  for  Pakistan.  Stemming  from  the  forum  of  Defense  and  Security  Talks   instituted  in  2002,  Pakistan  and  China  signed  a  landmark  agreement  in  December  2008   to   escalate   bilateral   military   cooperation.118  Sino-­‐Pak   military   cooperation   has   been   a   source   of   worry   for   other   regional   rising   regional   powers,   such   as   India.   The   Indian   Defense   Minister   in   November   2009   stated:   “The   increasing   nexus   between   China   and   Pakistan  in  the  military  sphere  remains  an  area  of  serious  concern.”119     In   the   period   2008-­‐2012   China’s   arms   exports   grew   by   162%   compared   to   the   previous   5-­‐year   period,   and   its   share   in   the   global   arms   exports   increased   from   2%   to   5%   –   thereby   replacing   United   Kingdom   as   the   5th   largest   international   exporter   of   arms.120  It   was  also  the  first  time  in  20  years  a  shift  was  observed  in  the  list  of  the  top  five  arms   exporters.121     According   to   head   of   SIPRI   Arms   Transfers   Program:   “China’s   rise   has   been   driven   primarily   by   large   scale   arms   acquisition   by   Pakistan”.122  Indeed   over   half   of   China’s   arms  exports  –  namely,  55%  –  in  the  2008-­‐2012  period  were  to  Pakistan.123    In  the  same   time  period,  Pakistan  ranked  3rd  in  the  top  five  arms  importers  list,  covering  5%  of  the   global  imports,  and  following  India  (12%)  and  China  (6%).124                                                                                                                     117  “Proliferation:  Threat  and  Response:,  Department  of  Defense  Report,  January  2001.   118  Dr.  Monika  Chansoria,  “China’s  Arms  Sales  to  Pakistan  Unsettling  for  South  Asian  Security”,  Indian   Defense  Review,  Vol.  25:4,  Oct-­‐Dec  2010.     119  “China-­‐Pakistan  Military  Links  Upset  India”,  Financial  Times,  27  November  2009.   120  “China  Replaces  UK  as  the  Worlds  Fifth  Largest  Arms  Exporter,”  Stockholm  International  Peace   Research  Institute,  18  March  2013.   121  The  top-­‐five  list  of  global  arms  exporters  was  hitherto  dominated  by  the  United  States,  Russia,   Germany,  France  and  United  Kingdom.   122  “China  Replaces  UK  as  the  Worlds  Fifth  Largest  Arms  Exporter,”  Stockholm  International  Peace   Research  Institute,  18  March  2013.   123  “Pakistan  Buys  55%  of  China’s  Arms  Exports,”  Hindustan  Times,  19  March  2013.   124  SIPRI,  18  March  2013.  



Moreover,   while   world   military   expenditure   fell   by   0.5%   from   2011-­‐2012,   countries   such   as   Russia   and   China   were   seen   to   increase   their   spending:   China   was   the   second   largest   spender   in   2012   (increasing   expenditure   by   7.8%)   and   Russia   was   the   third   largest  (increase  by  16%).125     It   remains   unclear   whether   Pakistan   receives   the   lion   share   of   its   defense   equipment   from   China.   However,   the   Pakistani   military   maintains   that   China   is   “one   of   its   biggest   partners  [along  with  France  and  the  US]”.126  There  is  little  indication  that  China  will  stop   selling  arms  to  Pakistan  and  lose  a  major  source  of  income.  The  United  States  remains   the   key   partner   in   terms   of   supplying   defense   hardware   and   military   programs.127   However  it  is  more  cost-­‐effective  to  acquire  defense  equipment  from  China  vs.  the  US.     Strong   links   to   China,   however,   cannot   be   denied.   Declassified   CIA   records   in   April   2013   suggested   that   China   was   exporting   nuclear   materials   to   Third   World   countries,   including   Pakistan,   without   safeguards.   China   is   believed   to   facilitate   Islamabad’s   nuclear   weapons   capability:   main   developments   herein   include   “verbal   consent   [in   1974]   to   help   Pakistan   develop   a   “nuclear   blast”   capability,   “hedged   and   conditional   commitment”  in  1976  to  provide  nuclear  weapons  technology,  and  unspecified  excised   information  that  raised  the  “possibility  that  China  has  provided  a  fairly  comprehensive   package   of   proven   nuclear   weapon   design   information.” 128  The   documents   made   it   probable   also   that   the   exchange   was   two-­‐way   where   Pakistan   likely   shared   gas   centrifuge  technology  with  the  Chinese.129     China  built  two  nuclear  power  plants  in  Pakistan  in  the  1990s  and  signed  a  deal  in  2009   to   build   two   more   -­‐   a   deal   to   which   it   continues   to   adhere   on   the   grounds   that   it   was   “grandfathered”  in  1986,  prior  to  Chinese  membership  to  the  Nuclear  Suppliers  Groups   (NSG).   Pakistan   Chashma   Nuclear   Power   Plant   (CHANUPP)   marked   the   first   nuclear   power  plant  imported  from  China.                                                                                                                     125  SIPRI  Military  Expenditure  Database,  Stockholm  International  Peace  Research  Institute,  15  April  2013.   126  “Pakistan  Buys  55%  of  China’s  Arms  Exports,”  Hindustan  Times,  19  March  2013.   127  “Major  U.S.  Arms  Sales  and  Grants  to  Pakistan  Since  2001”,  CRS,  March  2013   128  The  Nuclear  Vault,  National  Security  Archive  Electronic  Briefing  Book  No.  423,  The  George  Washington  

University,  23  April  2013.   129  Ibid.  



Although   Indo-­‐US   strategic   relationship   is   believed   to   face   conflicts   on   several   fronts,   further   developments   in   Indo-­‐US   nuclear/defense   deals   are   nevertheless   worrying   for   both   Pakistan   and   China.   China’s   dealings   with   Pakistan   have   traditionally   been   conducted   with   an   eye   on   India.   As   such,   both   countries   are   interested   in   counterbalancing  nuclear  deals  between  India  and  the  United  States.       Although  India  has  refused  to  sign  the  Non-­‐Proliferation  Treaty,  in  2005,  the  US  made  a   controversial   deal   with   the   country   to   help   develop   its   nuclear   program.   India   is   strategically   important   to   the   United   States   as   a   counterweight   to   China.   Cultivating   closer   ties   to   India   is   a   key   component   of   US   (and   most   Western   countries)   foreign   policy   agenda   vis-­‐à-­‐vis   South   Asia   that   views   India   as   a   more   favorable   and   beneficial   ally  than  Pakistan.     This  Indo-­‐American  nuclear  agreement  led  China  to  oppose  it  on  the  grounds  that  it  was   not   equitable,   and   favored   a   similar   Nuclear   Suppliers   Group   (NSG)130  exemption   for   Pakistan.  Similarly,  US  vouching  for  Indian  membership  to  the  NSG  have  ruffled  feathers   in   Beijing   and   Islamabad;   for   it   made   India   the   only   country   outside   the   Nuclear   Non-­‐ Proliferation  Treaty  to  penetrate  the  group.     Cornerstones  of  Sino-­‐Pak  military  cooperation  is  the  Chashma  Nuclear  Power  Complex,   located   near   the   Punjabi   city   of   Chashma;   Chashma   Nuclear   Power   Plant   1   (CHASNUPP-­‐ 1,   or   Chashma   1)   and   Chashma   Nuclear   Power   Plant   2   (Chashma   2)   have   been   constructed   with   Chinese   assistance,   while   Chashma   3   and   4   are   underway 131  and   scheduled   to   be   completed   by   2016   and   2017,   respectively.     In   the   international   community,  news  of  such  deals  has  been  met  with  skepticism  and  controversy  prevails.   Earlier,  agreements  signed  by  China  in  2009  for  Chashma  3  and  4  came  at  the  heels  of   China’s  membership  at  the  NSG,    

                                                                                                                130  The  NSG  is  a  46-­‐member  body  that  prohibits  the  sale  of  technology  to  countries  that  have  not  signed  

the  Nuclear  Non-­‐Proliferation  Treaty  (NPT).   131  Zafar  Bhutta,  “Government  to  Kick  Off  Work  on  1,100  MG  Nuclear  Power  Plant”,  The  Express  Tribune,  7   June  2013  



However,  Beijing  argued  the  “grandfather  clause”132:  namely,  that  reactors  3  and  4  were   penned   as   part   of   earlier   deals   (for   Chashma   1   and   2)   which   China   had   already   declared   as  part  of  its  commitments  when  it  joined  the  Nuclear  Suppliers  Group.  This  may  hold   water  since  it  was  in  1986  that  China  and  Pakistan  signed  The  Comprehensive  Nuclear   Cooperation   Agreement   that   stated   that   China   would   by   2011   construct   four   nuclear   reactors  in  Pakistan.     The   issue   ruffles   the   feathers   of   other   powers,   such   as   India   and   the   United   States.   India   for   its   part   had   to   seek   a   waiver   from   NSG   before   its   civilian   deal   with   the   US   materialized  any  further.  The  US  has  repeatedly  urged  China  to  seek  a  waiver  if  it  aims   to  continue  its  assistance  to  Pakistan’s  nuclear  program.  However,  the  ramifications  of   putting   pressure   on   China   to   seek   such   a   waiver   can   be   adverse   and   felt   worldwide;   more  than  half  the  world’s  reactors  are  currently  under  construction  in  China,  and  it  has   become  “the  world’s  living  laboratory  for  new  nuclear  reactor  designs”.133       Sino-­‐Pakistani  civilian  nuclear  cooperation  continues  unhindered.  Last  year  saw  talks  to   export   another   1,000   MW   reactor   to   Pakistan,   either   to   Chashma   or   to   the   Karachi   Nuclear   Power   Plant   complex.   In   March   2013,   China   and   Pakistan   allegedly   agreed   to   build   an   additional   reactor   at   the   Complex   -­‐   namely,   Chashama   5.134  In   June   2013,   the   Pakistani   government   announced   the   go-­‐ahead   for   the   Karachi   Coastal   Power   Project,   1,100-­‐megawatt  nuclear  power  plant  in  Karachi  with  Chinese  assistance.  The  project  is   scheduled  to  start  from  the  next  financial  year.       In   order   to   tackle   Pakistan’s   pertinent   energy   crisis,   it   was   further   reported   that   the   Pakistani   government   was   in   discussion   with   China   regarding   the   construction   of   two   other  nuclear  power  plants  with  a  combined  capacity  of  2,000MW;  which  will  be  utilized   for  setting  up  Karachi  Nuclear  Power  Plant-­‐2  (Kanupp-­‐2)  and  Kanupp-­‐3.135  The  Karachi   Coastal  Power  Project  was  inaugurated  by  Nawaz  Sharif  on  26  November  2013,  where                                                                                                                  

132  The  “grandfather  clause”  refers  to  the  agreement  to  construct  two  nuclear  reactors  in  Pakistan  before   China  joined  the  NSG  in  2004.   133  David  Bello,  “China’s  Nuclear  Power  Plans  Unfazed  by  Fukushima  Disaster”,  Yale  Environment  360,  8   August  2011   134  “China,  Pakistan  Signed  Deal  on  1,000  MW  Reactor”,  The  Hindu,  26  March  2013.     135  Zafar  Bhutta,  “Government  to  Kick  Off  Work  on  1,100  MG  Nuclear  Power  Plant”,  The  Express  Tribune,  7   June  2013.  



the   PM   vowed   that   6   more   nuclear   power   plants   would   be   constructed   to   curb   the   problem   of   electricity   shortage   in   the   country   -­‐   producing   40,000MW   of   electricity   by   2050.136       Beijing  has  insisted  that  any  future  nuclear  cooperation  with  Pakistan  is  directed  solely   at  meeting  the  urgent  and  vast  civilian  energy  shortages  in  the  country.  It  further  argues   that  the  plants  do  not  violate  NSG  norms  and  will  remain  under  the  International  Atomic   Energy  Agency  (IAEA)  watchdog.  Islamabad  has  also  stated  that  the  proposed  reactors   are  crucial  to  its  efforts  to  generate  8,800MW  of  nuclear  energy  by  2030.137     There  prevails  a  “thin  line”  between  civilian  and  military  nuclear  collaboration;  despite   IAEA-­‐aegis,  peaceful  nuclear  cooperation  is  un-­‐checked  for  weaponry  proclivity.    While   Chinese  technology  transferred  to  Pakistan  is  supervised  by  the  IAEA,  the  UN  agency  is   not  allowed  to  inspect  sites  or  plants  that  fall  under  the  purview  of  the  military.     The   Joint   Fighter   17,   or   JF-­‐17,   is   an   example   of   China’s   proven   willingness   to   build   Pakistan’s   domestic   defense   industry.   The   JF-­‐17   is   a   low-­‐cost,   single   engine   multirole   aircraft   developed   jointly   by   Pakistan   and   China   in   the   late   1990s.   The   JF-­‐17’s   initial   purpose   was   to   provide   Pakistan’s   Air   Force   with   a   cheap   alternative   to   Western   fighter   jets,   especially   at   the   time   when   western   countries   had   imposed   sanctions   on   the   country   following   the   nuclear   tests   of   1998.   Recently,   Pakistan   started   to   manufacture   the  fighter  domestically;  in  2010  it  inducted  its  first  indigenous  JF-­‐Thunder  squadron.138       In   October,   Pakistan   announced   plans   to   start   the   sale   of   the   JF-­‐17   to   other   countries   next   year   (2014).139  The   Ministry   of   Defense   Production   said   as   many   as   42   JF-­‐17   Thunder   planes   have   been   developed   so   far   under   joint   venture   with   China.     Despite   China’s   dialogue   with   other   countries   on   the   subject,   Pakistan   is   thus   far   the   only   country  to  have  purchased  this  weapons  system  from  China.                                                                                                                       136  “Karachi  Operations  to  Continue  Until  Objectives  Met”,  Dawn,  26  November  2013.   137  :  Chris  Schneidmiller,  “IAEA  Board  Sets  Plan  for  Monitoring  New  Pakistani  Nuclear  Reactors”,  Nuclear   Threat  Initiative,  9  March  2011.   138  Zackery  Keck,  “Pakistan  to  Begin  Exporting  JF-­‐17  Thunder  Fighter  Jets”,  The  Diplomat,  30  October   2013.     139  “Sale  of  JF  Thunder  Jets  to  Start  Next  Year”,  The  Nation,  25  October  2013.  



An   illustration   of   the   close   defense   cooperation   may   be   gleaned   from   the   fact   that   in   the   aftermath   of   the   US   raid   on   Bin   Laden’s   hideout   in   Abbottabad   in   May   2011,   the   wreckage   of   the   US   stealth   helicopter   parts   procured   by   Pakistan   intelligence   services   allegedly  allowed  Chinese  military  engineers  to  examine  the  wreckage.140       In  spite  of  international  incrimination  against  Pakistan  for  counter-­‐terrorism  shortfalls   and   for   “harboring”   bin   Laden,   Beijing   has   backed   Islamabad   and   endorsed   the   importance   of   Pakistani   sovereignty.   Chinese   Prime   Minister   Wen   Jiabao   reportedly   said:     “We  support  Pakistan’s  response  [to  the  situation.  We  acknowledge  that   Pakistan   has   made   great   sacrifices   and   important   contributions   in   the   global   fight   against   terror.   I   wish   to   stress   here   that   no   matter   what   changes   might   take   place   in   the   international   landscape,   China   and   Pakistan   will   remain   forever-­‐good   neighbors,   good   friends,   good   partners   and   good   brothers.   No   country   has   any   right   to   intervene   in   Pakistan”.141       The  Chinese  government  allegedly  also  sent  a  delegation  to  Washington,  urging  the  US   to   publicly   acknowledge   Pakistan’s   role   in   the   global   war   against   terrorism   and   avoid   excessive  criticism.142       All  this  contributes  to  Islamabad’s  reliance  on  its  powerful  regional  ally  so  to  mitigate  US   pressure  and,  at  times,  interference,  inside  Pakistan.  The  bin  Laden  raid  also  led  China,   for   the   first   time,   to   take   a   forbidding   stance   on   Pakistan’s   behalf,   manifested   in   its   indirect  reprimanding  of  the  US.  Beijing  appears  interested  in  maintaining  its  strategic   friendship  with  Pakistan  in  order  to  contain  both  Indian  and  American  presence  in  the   region.       Compared   to   Sino-­‐Pak   relations,   Pak-­‐US   relations   have   been   turbulent   and   marked   with   suspicion   and   distrust   on   either   side.   Unlike   China   who   does   not   impose   any   strings   attached   nor   is   forceful,   the   US   is   seen   to   make   Pakistan   act   under   duress.    Further,   Pak-­‐ US   relationship   is   not   nuclear   based,   although   the   US   is   one   of   the   major   suppliers   of                                                                                                                   140  Mark  Mazetti,  “US  Aides  Believe  China  Examined  Stealth  Copter”,  The  New  York  Times,  11  August  

2011.       141  “China  Endorses  Pakistan’s  Response  to  US  Raid:  PM”,  The  Express  Tribune,  19  May  2011.   142  Ibid.  



arms.  Neither  does  the  US  pave  way  for  transfer  of  technology,  or  defense  production,  to   Pakistan.  Also,  while  US  presence  in  Afghanistan  encouraged  high  levels  of  cooperation   between  the  countries’  militaries,  this  situation  is  likely  to  end  once  the  US  troops  scale   back  operations  in  Afghanistan  from  2014.       Conclusion   Sino-­‐Pak   relationship   is   often   touted   as   being   “all-­‐weathered”   and   “time-­‐tested”,   and,   labeled   with   lavish   hyperboles   categorically   exchanged   between   leaders   of   the   two   countries,   such   as   “higher   than   the   Himalayas”   and   sweeter   than   honey”.   A   closer   examination  of  this  much-­‐lauded  bond  reveals  that  it  is  true  to  a  marked  and  meaningful   extent.   The   consistency   and   depth   of   the   bonhomie   is   weaved   into   the   stable,   surrounding  factors  that  govern  region  politics  –  the  key  of  which  is,  simply,  geography.       A   fixed   and   deep   geo-­‐political   strategic   alliance   rooted   in   realism   embalms   the   seemingly  unbridled  “love  affair”  between  Pakistan  and  China.  The  geographic  dynamics   can   be   said   to   breed   a   natural   coalition,   dominating   the   strategic   ambitions   of   both   Beijing  and  Islamabad.  In  this  context  the  influence  of  India  as  well  as  United  States,  in   addition   to   other   actors   such   as   Russia,   in   the   region   is   of   important   relevance.   The   nuances   within   this   geographic   matrix   then   determine   priorities   of   Sino-­‐Pak   relationship   while   keeping   intact   a   similar   and   entrenched   cohesive   outlook   to   most   regional/global  issues.     Lately,   there   is   an   emerging   shift   in   focus   within   the   Sino-­‐Pak   partnership   wherein   boosting  economic  cooperation  is  being  given  precedence;  enabling  greater  connectivity   and   trade   and   inviting   greater   Chinese   investment   appear   to   top   the   agenda.   This   cooperation   may   ultimately   evolve   to   become   a   keystone   of   their   relationship;   however,   as  it  stands,  collaboration  on  this  front  is  not  as  substantial  so  as  to  define  it  in  any  way.       While   there   prevails   a   comprehensive   cooperation   between   Pakistan   and   China,   covering   myriad   different   domains,   strong   diplomatic   and   defense   bonds   make   up   the   basic   DNA   mapping   of   Pakistan-­‐China   relationship.   Pakistani   defense   requirements   were  met  by  China  as  early  as  the  1950s,  and  China  is  believed  to  have  played  a  key  role   in   creating   a   credible   defense   for   Pakistan.   A   lion   share   of   Pakistani   defense   comes   from  



China.   This   relationship   grew   from   defense/strategic   cooperation   to   collaboration   on   inter-­‐connectivity,   the   highlight   of   which   was   the   Karakoram   highway.   Beyond   this,   there  is  a  widespread  understanding  of  an  “emotive  attachment”  between  Pak-­‐China.143     Historically,   Sino-­‐Pak   relations   has   been   unaffected   by   the   changing   governments   in   Pakistan   over   the   decades.   However,   the   partnership   agenda,   or   primacy   of   a   certain   sphere  of  cooperation  over  another,  may  depend  on  who  sits  in  Islamabad  –  e.g.  military   versus   civilian   leadership.   Prime   Minister-­‐elect   Nawaz   Sharif   hails   from   a   business   background   and   won   the   May   2013   parliamentary   elections   on   the   ticket   of   strengthening  Pakistani  economy.  Thus  a  focus  on  furthering  connections  with  China  in   the   commercial   area   is   expected.   Sharif’s   agenda   ties   in   neatly   with   China’s   short/long   term  economic  –  and  strategic  policies  in  the  region.     While   Islamabad   and   Beijing   notable   share   a   large   set   of   common   regional   interests,   there   remain   a   few   points   of   dissension;   for   instance,   vis-­‐à-­‐vis   Afghanistan,   the   two   countries   arguably   have   different   concerns.   It   remains   to   be   seen   whether   or   to   what   extent   these   differences   impact   the   close   cooperation   between   the   two.   Looking   beyond   2014  when  the  US  scales  back  its  presence  from  Afghanistan  and  the  post-­‐9/11  tension   in   US-­‐Pak   relations   potentially   subsides,   Pakistan’s   interests   are   best   served   by   maintaining  good  relations  with  both  countries  and,  especially,  by  focusing  more  on  the   quality  of  its  economic  relations  with  them.144       Of  particular  interest  to  both  Islamabad  and  Beijing  is  the  future  of  India’s  footprint  in   Afghanistan,  which  both  parties  are  interested  in  reversing.  Pakistan  has  and  continues   to   push   for   a   settlement   in   Afghanistan   that   enjoys   consensus   from   all   stakeholders,   including   the   Taliban.   This   will   increase   Islamabad’s   chance   of   regaining   influence   in   Kabul,   which   it   perceives   as   having   been   increasingly   overtaken   by   New   Delhi   since   2001   (toppling   of   Taliban).   Further   developments   in   the   Afghan   reconciliation   process   will  invariably  affect  activities  of  jihadi  groups  in  the  area,  as  well  as  guide  Islamabad’s   future  strategic  agenda  and  its  relations  to  other  regional  actors.  As  it  stands,  the  post-­‐ 2014  situation  is  fraught  with  uncertainty  and  insecurity.                                                                                                                  

143  Fazlur  Rehman,  SSII,  interview,  July  2013.   144  Ziad  Haider,  personal  communication,  May  2013.  



  In  the  context  of  Sino-­‐Pak  relations,  it  can  be  forecasted  that  their  entente  cordiale  will   continue.   Despite   differences   in   culture   and   religion   –   and   the   threat   posed   to   China’s   domestic   security,   as   well   as   Chinese   personnel   in   Pakistan,   by   violent   extremist   elements   in   Pakistan’s   tribal   area   –   a   dedicated   bonhomie   prevails   between   the   two   countries.  Moreover,  past  and  current  trends  in  the  spheres  of  diplomatic,  economic  and   defense   cooperation   –   along   with   a   staunch   affinity   rooted   in   common   and   consistent   geo-­‐strategic  interests  –  point  to  a  strong  and  strengthening  relationship.              



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