BEIJING: China’s top state newspaper on Tuesday accused the United States of flouting international law and fanning terrorism after a NATO attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, and it warned that the Islamabad’s grip on security could be dangerously weakened.
The condemnation in the People’s Daily, the main newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party, kept up Beijing’s angry words in support of its partner, Pakistan, whose prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, has said that “business as usual” with the United States was over after the attack on Saturday.
NATO called the killings a “tragic, unintended incident”, and US officials said NATO and American investigations will determine what happened in the attack in northwest Pakistan.
But the People’s Daily said the attack already laid bare deeper problems in the US approach to militant threats.
“Above all, we must be clear that the United States and NATO have trampled on international laws and rules,” said a commentary in the newspaper.
“The risk in fighting terror this way is that it will ignite latent sympathy and support for terrorism, as well as hurting many innocent people and damaging international law,” said a commentary in the Chinese-language newspaper.
“The soil nurturing terrorism will become even more fertile, and the space for terrorism to spread even broader,” it said.
The commentary came after the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei voiced “shock” over the assault, and the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi offered Beijing’s “firm support” to his Pakistani counterpart, Hina Rabbani Khar.
But there are no signs as yet that China is prepared to go beyond rhetorical support to take on a bigger role as a security partner of troubled Pakistan.
The close ties between China and Pakistan reflect long-standing shared wariness of their common neighbour, India, and a desire to hedge against US influence across the region.
But the mutual vows of the Sino-Pakistani “all-weather friendship” only go so far, analysts have said. Beijing does not want to risk entanglement in volatile Pakistani politics, risking its own interests and alienating India, an increasingly important trade partner and regional power.
The People’s Daily commentary said the killings of the soldiers could inflict lasting damage.
“Islamabad’s grip on domestic security will also be weakened,” it said. “This will not only work against the war on terror, it could also leave the risk of long-term turmoil.”