Pakistan-China relations

Published: August 25, 2011

Pakistan-China relations are in danger of being undermined by Pakistan’s total lack of understanding of Chinese mind.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar is not far wrong when she says her country is committed to strengthening anti-terror cooperation with China, rejecting reports that her country was a haven for militants blamed for an attack in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang. Committed Pakistan is all right, but her assurance about Pakistan not being a safe haven for terrorists will be taken by Chinese leaders with a pinch of salt.

However, Pakistan’s attitude towards the issue is quite different with respect to China compared to how Islamabad responds when the same matter arises with America, and how the latter puts pressure on it with regard to the same ‘safe havens’. That, too, is understandable because the Pakistan Army disagrees intensely with America over the future dispensation of Afghanistan and remains deeply wedded to its rivalry with India. In simplistic terms — more in vogue in Pakistan than China — Pakistan and China have the same enemies: the US and India. Pakistan has profound differences with the US over how the war against terrorism is to be fought and has become overly sensitive to how much the Americans can do in Pakistan ‘to help it fight al Qaeda’. The bilateral equation is all but gone after the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. As for the Chinese, they don’t think in black and white as the Pakistanis do. Beijing does not react with knee-jerk policy changes as Washington does. It looks at Pakistan as a strategic partner quite apart from the latter’s potential of becoming overrun by the ideology of the terrorists. It is also not ready to replace the quondam Soviet Union as an ideological rival of the US. Pakistan will be making a great mistake if it thinks that China will fight the US and India for it. What is more of a truth is that China will help Pakistan survive if Pakistan takes the path of peace and free-trading, the Chinese trade mark for the 21st century.

China has been misunderstood in Islamabad. It is not going to dish out cash — of which it has a large reserve — rather; it will help Pakistan complete important projects, something at which Pakistan is not very good. There is big money linked to some very important projects with Chinese cooperation. For instance, there is the JF-17 fighter aircraft deal worth as much as $5 billion. There is Gwadar port, which has been built with initial Chinese investment of up to $400 million and there are two nuclear power plants at Chashma, each worth around $900 million. And there is also a proposal for Chinese help in building a dam on the Indus, with the scheme costing, according to Pakistani officials, as much as $15 billion. China calls the shots in Central Asia and its powerful centralised state apparatus will see to it that no province succumbs to religious terrorism and extremism unlike in Pakistan. The region’s economies are already connected with China and committed at the Shanghai Forum to fight terrorism unlike Pakistan which shelters outfits declared as ‘terrorist’ by the UN (where China voted in favour of the bans). Pakistan’s myth-making about America trying to grab Central Asian natural wealth should be put at rest because much of that has already been appropriated by China.

In 2009, the pipeline taking Turkmen gas to China was opened and, by 2013, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong will be using natural gas supplied by the 1,833-kilometer-long Central Asia pipeline. The other myth that America grabbed Iraqi oil should be corrected as well. China and India got all the fat Iraqi contracts after the Iraqis refused to privatise their oil wells. China is among the most pro-trade countries in the world but Pakistan is still biting its nails over trade with India. And it is the major trading partner and financier of America who fought the Iraq war with Chinese money. It is true that Pakistan has great love for China but Chinese nationals have died working in Balochistan, Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The Lal Masjid episode, if one recalls, was triggered by al Qaeda-linked fanatics who attacked Chinese nationals working in Islamabad. Pakistan-China relations are in danger of being undermined by Pakistan’s total lack of understanding of Chinese thinking and by Pakistan’s refusal to be realistic in its foreign policy.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (27)

  • Incredible
    Aug 25, 2011 - 10:11PM

    One of the best and well-balanced editorials. Time Pakistan wakes up.

    Recommend

  • Raheel
    Aug 25, 2011 - 10:14PM

    A very good try to tell us that those Chinese are not friends of Pakistan. If China and Pakistan though what you think then China would have finished most of its investments in Pakistan time ago but i guess you still live in dark world or try to keep other in dark. In fact China and Pakistan believes that the only way to overcome those terrorist is by developing the country and India cannot see this as Pakistan cannot see the double standards of US towards Pakistan and India. When US gives something to India to increase their power in the region then China does the same to Pakistan to keep it balanced and that is something US and west don’t like and this Article is the outcome of this.

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  • Chengez K
    Aug 25, 2011 - 10:15PM

    Strange editorial……

    It seems to be towing the U.S line under the garb of Chinese interests..

    It does not clearly identify what Pakistan should do vis-a-vis China.

    An editorial of the leading national daily should be more clear & objective than this confused piece!!!

    Recommend

  • Mohan Ram
    Aug 25, 2011 - 11:09PM

    @Raheel:
    Sir, I think that you wear blinkers that you put on horsers. The more that China invests in Pakistan, as you want and expect them to do, they will do so as long as there are heavy profits for them. It could come to a stage where they OWN three forth of Pakistan as you could not pay the loans and project costs with interest back to them. They may call your country Pakxjiang the new province of China. You will then be like Xinjiang where the natives are being replaced by the Hans. Good luck to you sir.

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  • Arindom
    Aug 26, 2011 - 2:23AM

    Very sensible editorial – might I also add that India – China trade is on target to touch $100 Billion by 2015?

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  • Arindom
    Aug 26, 2011 - 2:34AM

    I think the Pakistanis are being taken in by their own propaganda – higher than Himalayas, deeper than the Ocean, all weather friendship – as the Chinese systematically take over every small, medium and heavy industry in Pakistan and have an assured 180 million captive market!! India and China may be at loggerheads on many issues, but the Indians protected their industry which still managing to set a on-track $100 bn trade with China projected for 2015. This is where business trumps everything else. Today numerous Indian companies have also set up shop in China – Chinese will not hamper those relations founded on economics and trade for the same of ‘higher than himalayas’ rhetoric!!

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  • fahim
    Aug 26, 2011 - 3:23AM

    As a citizen I feel today China owns more than half of our resources. We are like fools, handing over our precious assets to the chinese, because we dont like US or India. What blind and twisted vision. Today, be in roads, power, dams, electricity, railways, airlines, military, space, telecom, trade, electronics, the list goes on… we only see chinese investment and no other country. On return, china sends its own labor, gives contract to its own companies, take profit out of this country and sits in every major management decision body for these sectors. Like idiots, we are putting all our eggs in one basket, and to justify it, make claims like taller than mountains. Nonsense. There is nothing from the chinese except pure business sense and capitalism. China will never ever fight US or India on our behalf as their trade runs in trillions. Our hate has blinded us by selling our assets to a foreign country, whoever it may be, or however friends we claim them to be.

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  • Amir
    Aug 26, 2011 - 7:04AM

    If China is not our friend then who is? America? A country that bombs our territory and kills our children in our territory and who takes our sovereignity as a joke even entering as far as Abbottabad which is just minutes away from Islamabad. India? A country that we have had 4 wars with and on-going long-lasting disputes with. A country that steals our waters on droughts and floods our rivers on monsoon season. A country that opposed the EU textile trade that could’ve benefited millions of Pakistanis. And dont get me started with muslim countries who haven’t done much for Pakistan at all. China is the country that have always done more for Pakistan than any Muslim country. China just launched a satellite for Pakistan, China is building nuclear reactors for Pakistan, China has invested more in Pakistan than any country on earth, and we have same interests as China in the region so if China wants access to Gwadar and Arabian Sea its all there. As of now Gwadar Port is just sitting rusting. Hand it over to China, and Gwadar can become the next Hong Kong and that can make a prosperous Pakistan. And China has always respected Pakistan’s sovereignity. Pakistan needs China more than China needs Pakistan.

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  • ciybersal
    Aug 26, 2011 - 7:10AM

    @Mohan Ram

    Well not really. Firstly Pakistan is not getting much investment from anywhere hence our state and economy is in shambles. We rather have investment from our “time tested” friend (which could potentially pour billions into various industries) than not having at all and remain stuck in a situation we are currently in.

    Secondly there would not come a “stage” where Pakistan is unable to repay back loans. Investment from China would kick start industries -Dams, Railways, Ports etc build modern infrastructure, transfer skills, knowledge and technology. Infrastructure development could potenitially eliminate power shortages (through power projects such as recent $15bn hydroelectric daming the Indus river) thus eliminating commen hurdles of businesses allowing them to grow and contributing to the GDP. Transfer of knowledge and skills would add to workforce efficiency, increase factory productivity and increase innovations by firms thereby contributing again to total output, transfer of technology would yield substantial macro level effects in multiple industries across the country also adding to net income.

    In short therefore continual investment could massively boost our businesses and industries thereby creating jobs, driving millions out of poverty, increase competitiveness and exports and generating foreign exchange reserves. Goldman Sachs predicts Pakistan’s with ~180 million strong population could become one of the largest economies of the world over the next 4 decades. Whilst reaching this status I believe Pakistan could easily repay back all loans and accrued interest. Reaching and maintaning a high single-digit GDP growth is all what is required. To achieve that FDI is the frontline route.

    Recommend

  • A.Raja Rao
    Aug 26, 2011 - 7:45AM

    Very good and realistic editorial. Maybe Pakistan should formally become a province of China in which case it can protest and demand more from the Chinese as against being all the time fawning and calling China an all weather friend and cannot demand Chinese help to the extent it can if it became a province of China

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  • Mohan Ram
    Aug 26, 2011 - 8:20AM

    I hope that your editorial wakes up the common people as to the selling of Pakistani wealth and resources and give aways to China in the name of Chinese investments and thus teaching the Americans and Indians a lesson. What you have to look at is at what is happening on the African Continent where China has been investing huge sums in mines, oil development etc where these resourses are mined and shipped back to China and the host country receives pittens (about 20%) which lines the opckets of government officials and does not benifit the population.

    The Chinese bring their own staff, security personal, sub-contractors even clerical staff. The host country may have contracts to supply equopment and staff, but before they know it the Chinese have awarded such contracts to Chinese companies and would have started work at the blink of a eye.The only work assined to the locals are manial labour.

    Iam sure this is already happening in Pakistani contracts. Your government is cutting off their nost to spite their face.

    Recommend

  • Cautious
    Aug 26, 2011 - 8:42AM

    Old school thinking — China and the USA might be rivals but they are not enemies — in fact China and the USA need each other and both understand that the taint of terrorism which stains Pakistan is something that they cannot afford.

    Recommend

  • Romit Ghosh
    Aug 26, 2011 - 9:16AM

    Pakistan cannot push back the Chinese,
    because unlike India, which had developed a huge engineering
    and scientific as well as managerial talent pool,
    prior to liberalization in 1991; and therefore had the wherewithal
    to take on international competition … with a lot of pain;
    Pakistan has done nothing in the terms of building the
    intellectual sinews necessary to foster the home manufacturing base.
    No wonder, their ‘all-whether fiend’ China,
    are riding rough-shod over each and every sector of their economy,
    including … gasp, cough, splutter … ahem … the Pak Army.
    Considering that half of Pakistan’s GDP is managed or owned by the
    Pak Army, and the Chinese are competing for a larger share of
    Pakistan’s GDP … pits the Pak Army against the Chinese economic
    colonialism! So much for the haloed concept of ‘Izzat’ and ‘Aabru’.
    Maybe, it is time for Pakistan to do a ‘ru-ba-ru’ with its own best interest.
    Better ‘shuroo’ now, than let the Chinese do the ‘through’.
    Know, what I mean?

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  • jam
    Aug 26, 2011 - 10:00AM

    strange, our higher than and deeper than friend has not announced any aid for the flood victims!

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  • Arindom
    Aug 26, 2011 - 10:29AM

    @A.Raja Rao:

    very good idea! instead of singing ‘higher than HImalayas’ ‘deeper than ocean’, ‘all weather’ etc and then passing around the hat for money from the Chinese – Pakistan can simply become a new province of China – say “PakXiang”, or “Western Xinkiang”. Surely money will flow from China uninterrupted – no singing necessary too!!

    Recommend

  • Arif Z
    Aug 26, 2011 - 11:00AM

    @Raheel:

    Editorial is balanced and forces one to think really in terms of Pakistan’s future interests rather than short term satisfaction. The problem is we are blinded by China as we do not have any other friends and China is taking full advantage of this situation. They actually do not care about poverty , flood or hunger, or wellbeing of Pakistan. Relation with Pakistan gives them two benefits. One to counter US and India and two to fill its pockets with our resources, contracts and control over us.
    If only people like you can wake up and see this happening……

    Recommend

  • faraz
    Aug 26, 2011 - 11:41AM

    And the damage to domestic economy from the free trade agreement with China is unimaginable

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  • Frank
    Aug 26, 2011 - 1:32PM

    You pays your money and you takes your choice of editorial, heh New York Times?

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  • Lutfi Shah
    Aug 26, 2011 - 2:42PM

    Cut the crap all indians here honestly I’m sick and tired of reading their posts… Always putting there views in such a way that they think they know more… It makes me laugh when I read an indian post cuz it sounds more like an actors doing there role as directed by there directors (…..). this editorial is not complete and also misleading, Let me give you an example, “If u ask any chinese that what they think about Pakistan… They will tell you that “We want Pakistan’s economy to grow as soon as possible no matter how much help they require from us.”
    The Chinese people know that if anything happened to Pakistan, China will no longer become a global leader. This whole world works on interests. China will support Pakistan in every way Pakistan wants.
    And don’t forget the statement of Chinese Minister in the month of MAY that “If Islamabad is attacked than we will consider it as an attack on Beijing”. This is not a small statement.. No country has made this sort of statement in support of any other country since 9/11 when the US killers started there killings in all around the world. And there is no doubt that if US attacked on Pakistan then China as well as Russia (no longer economic leader but good in military equipment) are no longer good at what they are right now. “GET MY POINT HERE”

    To the person who wrote this editorial>>
    Like you made all these people think that China is taking our resources::: then you should have also mentioned here that China has got the Technology Recourse right??? and they are keep on passing these resources to Pakistan slowly and steadily. You should also mention about the economic city in China?? This will be a new business city for Pakistan inside China. Pakistan has got a bigger chance to learn as much as they can from Chinese and Follow the Sayings of our Prophet peace be upon Him that “To obtain knowledge travel into China if necessary”

    Recommend

  • Subhash
    Aug 26, 2011 - 3:11PM

    @Amir:
    Only you yourself are your own true friend.Rest all others have to look after their own interests.

    Recommend

  • samarth
    Aug 26, 2011 - 4:37PM

    @editor:
    i’ve had been in touch with many chinese people…and if you ask them anything about pakistan……they ‘ve too many negative things to say about you(frankly they dont really clear) i wonder why yours PM and u as a citizen assign them as ur all weather frnd…
    and blah blah…….
    it is very much evident that they are using you (in their own interest against india)
    in the same way americans used you against soviet union.Recommend

  • Lutfi Shah
    Aug 26, 2011 - 8:12PM

    @samarth I don’t know which Chinese people u have been speaking to? surprisingly i come across to the Chinese people who love Pakistan and can even speak bit of Urdu.
    My advice to you is to stop spreading the lies. There were Chinese families living in my city in Pakistan and use to have businesses. I remember going to a Chinese shoe shop to buy quality hand made shoes (don’t wanna mention my city name here).
    “Give me an evidence which shows clearly that China is using Pakistan like you gave an example of Pakistan kicking Russian out of Afghanistan.”??? There is not even a single evidence or not even a single case since I started deep research on Pakistan and China relationship. Read my post above and you will find out that China them selves need Pakistan to become more stronger in their economy and they will never invade Pakistan cuz they have other countries to deal with and they will well provide whatever Pakistan needs.

    China is purely helping Pakistan not by giving AID but by giving knowledge, technology and business.
    Now China is the new super power and sees Pakistan as a trust worthy all weather Friend.
    india can go with their trust worthy partner “Israel and US”. Well let me tell you both of these countries are zionists and will kick india very hard… It took a long time for Pakistan to come out of US fake friendship. It was never easy since Pakistan and China played their cards really well.

    Recommend

  • samarth
    Aug 26, 2011 - 10:12PM

    @Lutfi Shah:
    dude personally i really follow yours and chinese media ….admire deeply many of the pakistanis.
    I am not here for criticizin urs nation…plz dont take me wrong.
    But here comes a REALITY CHECK:none of the youngsters ….be it chinese..indians…or iranian(even africans)….nobody wants to do a business in ur country….they dont want to even talk about(except terrorism part etc)……
    the chinese family you are talking about might ‘ve even migrated from pak(check plz)…
    and ofcourse china is not goin to invade…bcoz…pakistan is loyal to china…more than china’s own states are …..and yes you are making them grow economically….by importng weapons (etc)….
    A FACT:they are never gonna provide you with funds (even 10% US provides)….so trust on US ….they are ur best frnd….(an advice)
    By involving with china ..you are deterioting your image more…in the eyes of major countries..
    they ‘ve started seeing u with more suspicion…..Recommend

  • observer
    Aug 26, 2011 - 11:33PM

    @Lutfi Shah

    The Chinese people know that if anything happened to Pakistan, China will no longer become a global leader.

    A nation to become a global leader needs (i) Money, (ii) Might and (iii) Technical Knowhow. I am curious to know for which one of these dcoes China depend on Pakistan?

    And there is no doubt that if US attacked on Pakistan then China as well as Russia (no longer economic leader but good in military equipment) are no longer good at what they are right now. “GET MY POINT HERE

    Honestly, I do not get your point at all. I doubt if anyone else does.Do try and explain again.

    And by what token are the Drone bombings and Abbottabad incidents not to be classified as ‘US attacked on Pakistan’? And how come China and Russia are ‘no longer good at what they are right now’?

    Recommend

  • Arindom
    Aug 27, 2011 - 2:29AM

    @Lutfi Shah:

    haha obviously they are Pakistan-settled Chinese – who’ve taken jobs away from Paksitanis – obviously they better sing Pakistan’s praises!! LOL!

    Recommend

  • optimist
    Aug 28, 2011 - 3:45AM

    I have never seen Indians more happy and Pakistanis more unsatisfied on any news website except Express Tribune.

    Maybe ET needs to review its policy and see if it is right or biased!!!

    Recommend

  • GSR
    Aug 30, 2011 - 5:27AM

    China is not a ‘slave master’, it has supplied Pakistan with nuclear weapons and the delivery system to hit into China if it wishes!!! What kind of master will supply his slave the power and means to destroy him? China is a true ally, unlike the fickle US. Now that is a cruel slave master.

    As for Indians, I understand their concern. While rich China is improving relations with Pak, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma, the Maldives, Afghan (Pashtun), Turkey and the wider Muslim world, India has to rely on what attention it can get from poor and bankrupt US and its Jewish welfare case, Israel.

    In the world of ‘real politik’, you have to make powerful friends and allies, by improving relations with Turkey and China, Pakistan is the right direction of history. India conversely, has so many external and internal enemies (Kashmiris, Khalistanis, Assamis, Naxalites, Nagalanders, Assamis, angry untouchables and others) that I seriously question how long it can survive as one country!

    Recommend

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