With the recent visit of US President Barrack Obama in New Delhi on the Republic Day parade in India and with the nation wanting to align its policies similar to Washington has created unease for not only Pakistan but for China as well. However news of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping to be the chief guest at the March parade in Pakistan this year has been received quite warmly. Such a visit is likely to be reassuring for the country and will show the strong bond, which has existed between the two. Alongside this policy was the recently strong statements made by the military leadership in China of providing support to Pakistan.
Within the field of defence, China has offered cooperation to Pakistan by not only providing the nation with weapons and equipment but it has also helped the country in developing a defence industrial capability for itself. It has been through Chinese assistance that Pakistan has been able to develop projects such as the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Heavy Industries Taxila, a number of factories and production lines in the Pakistan Ordnance Factories and maritime projects for the navy and missile factories. Furthermore, the industrial and technological base for Pakistan was also developed with the help of China in the 1970-80 when units such as the Heavy Forge Factory and the Heavy Mechanical Complex were set up.
The Pakistan-China Economic corridor valuing at $45 billion is likely to have great positive implications for Pakistan as it will help the nation transform its economic landscape. This will be made possible with the nation having links with the southern, western and central Asian regions. Other projects which are mutually beneficial for both countries include the development of the Gwadar Port — an energy hub as well as the economic corridor; both countries will gain immense opportunities due to the opening up of such routes as the access to the Strait of Hormuz, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf by China as well as the link between Kashgar in China with Gwadar in Pakistan.
While such bonds of friendship seem to show the positive side of the trade relationship, China is genuinely concerned regarding the radicalism in Pakistan, which is on the rise. Not only is this seen as a concern for the stability of Pakistan, it is also seen as a factor, which could have an impact on the northwestern autonomous region of China, Xinjiang, which has quite a large majority of Muslim population along with other minorities. While Pakistan is doing its utmost to ensure that dissident Chinese groups don’t find refuge within the tribal region, it is still a challenge for the country as the prevention of this is made difficult due to the nature of the border and the support received from militant groups. If militants were to achieve gains in Pakistan, this would cause Beijing to review its policies as it could cause the nation to be concerned of the impact resulting from such actions.
When formulating the future policy, Pakistan will certainly have to take into consideration the global role, which China has to and currently is in a position to play. One is the relationship between China and America. Much of the economic rise experienced by China is said to be owed to the United States as no other country’s consumer market could have absorbed the manufacturing base of China. China is sensible that it realizes this along with the fact that America does have clout both in the political and economic domains which is why it’s opting for positive relationships with the country. The links between the US and Beijing are quite intertwined which makes it difficult for such a relationship to end from either side. Similar is the case between China and India. Despite the strategic alliance being formed between the United States and India causing tensions and border dispute to arise, the leadership in China has continued to opt for maintaining good relationships with India. Both countries have not only an economic but commercial relationship as well with trade between the nations having reached $70 billion with the figure continuing to rise. China is aware of what a fallout with India would do to its economy as well as to its domestic development which is why the nation has always ensured to take a position and use foresight in handling its foreign relations. Thus, such factors will have to be taken into consideration when the foreign policy is being formulated in the future by Pakistan.
Due to the complex nature of the relationship Pakistan has with India, Beijing doesn’t seem to be very comfortable when and if tensions between the two were to aggravate. While China would remain supportive of Pakistan, it would still like to manage relations in a manner which is rather diplomatic in order to ensure that an environment is maintained where it wouldn’t have to take sides especially in such a time when the two nations are beginning to experience a growth in its commercial and economic interests.
The relationship between Pakistan and China are likely to grow positively as they continue to be based on mutual interest. Pakistan, however, ought to consider the role which China has to play in global terms and take this into consideration as well. Remaining sensitive to such factors will allow both nations to maintain a relationship which isn’t detrimental to their future partnerships and which doesn’t place China in a situation where taking sides becomes an inevitable and uncomfortable situation. With economic and military domains being important for both countries in terms of their trade relationship, it is ideal for Pakistan and China to continue working together as the relationship is proving to be prolific.