Perspective from ‘friends’: De-escalate tensions with US, says China

Published: May 31, 2012
Yang Jiechi, Foreign Minister of China called on Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at General
Headquarters. PHOTO: APP

Yang Jiechi, Foreign Minister of China called on Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at General Headquarters. PHOTO: APP


Pakistan’s all-weather friend may have publicly backed it in the face of simmering tensions with the United States, but China has privately advised Islamabad to avoid taking ‘extreme positions’ in its relationship with the United States.

The message was delivered by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who held extensive discussions with Pakistan’s top civil and military leaderships during his just-concluded trip to Islamabad, sources said.

The highlight of his visit was China’s emphasis on the world to recognise Pakistan’s ‘huge sacrifices’ in the war against terrorism and back Islamabad’s efforts to safeguard its ‘sovereignty, territorial integrity and dignity’.

The carefully-worded remarks appeared to be aimed at the United States, which has questioned Pakistan’s credentials in the fight against militancy.

But privately, the Chinese foreign minister also conveyed ‘a word of wisdom’ to the Pakistani leadership on how to deal with the US. Beijing wants to see a breakthrough in the lingering stalemate between Pakistan and the US, sources said.

Points of convergence

“China wants Pakistan to have a balanced approach in its dealings with the US,” said a top Pakistani official familiar with the high-level discussions.

The official, however, did not say if a ‘balanced approach’ meant that Islamabad should stop insisting on an unconditional apology for last year’s Nato cross-border attack at a Pakistani check post.

He explained that while China itself had serious differences with the US on many issues, the two countries still had many areas of convergence.

“And that’s what they expect from us … to build our relationship where we have points of convergence with Americans,” the official said.

The official added that Beijing had encouraged Islamabad to sort out its differences, including the resumption of supplies for foreign forces stationed in Afghanistan.

Periodic consultations

The official said the visit of the Chinese foreign minister was part of periodic consultations between the two countries and preparation for the upcoming visit by President Zardari to Beijing, but the issue of ongoing tensions between Pakistan and the US figured prominently during the discussions.

Following his meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, the top Chinese diplomat on Wednesday met with Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Little was said about the meeting in a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

“The visiting dignitaries remained with him for some time and discussed the matters of mutual interest,” said a terse statement issued by the military’s media wing.

(Read: The future of Pak-US relations

Pakistan should seize the moment


Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Wtf
    May 31, 2012 - 5:05AM

    What a way to interpret the meeting? China loves this situation, and doesn’t discourage it

    the ET twist


  • John B
    May 31, 2012 - 5:06AM

    Does PAK need someone to tell that she needs a balanced approach ?


  • Sajid
    May 31, 2012 - 5:09AM

    Chinese are a wise people, and hence so many “Chinese Proverbs”. We are emotional people, and hence our literature is full of emotional expressions lacking wisdom and reason.


  • Afzal
    May 31, 2012 - 5:12AM

    Pakistan’s “all-weather-friend” China will not come to Pakistan’s rescue if the latter collapses. China has, presently, no option but to humour the present cabal of leadership (civilian, military and mullahs) that runs — sorry, “ruins” — this country. By becoming over-reliant on China, Pakistan is treading a strategically dangerous course. It is considered a failed and bankrupt state, and the only reason why the “all-weather-friend” smiles is because of pure strategic interests. Pakistan should immediately stop begging which is becoming its foreign policy.


  • Prasad Babu
    May 31, 2012 - 5:33AM

    In other words, Chinese are saying “please don’t force us to choose a side… you may not like the outcome”


  • @plarkin
    May 31, 2012 - 5:40AM

    This picture is all you need to tell you what ails this country. Can you name a civilized democracy in which a visiting foreign minister meets with the head of the military?


  • vasan
    May 31, 2012 - 6:11AM

    After Turkey, now it is China. Who will be next to pull the errand boy in town into line ?


  • Selvam
    May 31, 2012 - 6:15AM

    The photo says it all: Pakistan’s foreign policy is run by its top general, not by the puppet foreign ministry. Impossible in India or in Europe or the ME, possible in the US. China?


  • Animal Farm - Desi
    May 31, 2012 - 6:39AM

    Let’s not forget our ‘carrying capacity’!


  • YP Toronto
    May 31, 2012 - 6:47AM

    Good and sound advice from a friendly country.


  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    May 31, 2012 - 7:01AM

    First turkey now China both came to Pakistan with a message from US to get in line otherwise. Saudi Arabian envoy is probably in the wings will be lnding anyday. When dignitaries go to India they go for economic reason. When someone comes to Pakistan it is usually to tell do more.


  • Mirza
    May 31, 2012 - 7:18AM

    Every friend and well-wisher of Pakistan would give this same advice. Turkish PM must have told Pakistan the same thing. China could not have made much progress if they would only be asking for handouts and were hostile to the West. Most Pakistanis think that China and Turkey are their true friends so please listen to them if you cannot listen to the others.


  • Mujahid
    May 31, 2012 - 7:28AM

    China should provide intercontinental missile technology to pakistan so that US approch can be balance.


  • Billoo Bhaya
    May 31, 2012 - 7:59AM

    The all-weather-friend is ready to pull the umbrella when it starts raining?? That is a fine-weather-friend is it not???? Trust in yourself. This homily from the Koran never sunk into our all-sick-minds!!!!


  • kapt slim
    May 31, 2012 - 8:14AM

    Now we need wisdom from China as well. I wonder how heavily we are depended on China. Nevertheless I do agree with China’s advice of taking extreme positions.


  • Polpot
    May 31, 2012 - 8:16AM

    And the Chinese are saying: get all your financing from the naive americans…we have supplied them enough loans so that they can provide you.


  • Romm
    May 31, 2012 - 8:20AM

    ET Hypothesis


  • Thoughtful
    May 31, 2012 - 8:25AM

    Some tough love from friends. Also a reminder of points of convergence viz all that money you can expect from no one else.


  • Concerned
    May 31, 2012 - 8:58AM

    Pakistan-China bye-bye giving a loud message, ‘Sorry honey, dont ask for money’.


  • Californian
    May 31, 2012 - 9:04AM

    The Chinese make a lot of money, in fact most of their money by trading with the US and other western countries. Why would they want to kill the golden goose in favor of a scrawny crow?


  • Khosrow
    May 31, 2012 - 10:01AM

    China is taking Pakistan side. Nowhere is China saying listen to America.


  • Truthbetold
    May 31, 2012 - 10:03AM


    “The photo says it all: Pakistan’s foreign policy is run by its top general, not by the puppet foreign ministry. Impossible in India or in Europe or the ME, possible in the US. China?”

    Interesting observation. I can’t think of any major country where a visiting foreign minister is allowed to meet with the army chief in his office one-on-one. Surely tells who the real rulers of Pakistan are!


  • Usman Ali
    May 31, 2012 - 10:17AM

    Might be media translated some thing like that,, Good thing said by friend and Pakistan also not want escalate tensions with US, Pakistan only want to save own sovereignty , independence and its peoples, peace with out long external presence which is creating problem for Pakistan, Pakistan has controlled down large scale militancy in last 2 years which started After US invasion of Afghanistan.


  • May 31, 2012 - 10:26AM

    The ruling & opposition political parties all have sunk themselves in abusing US publicly for Drone attacks( country’s sovereignty), Salala incident. They themselves have created a stir of anti US sentiments in the minds of Pakistani public. Next election is quite near and they can not afford to go against the public sentiments. Political parties ( except the religious parties) are willing to reconcile with US on opening of NATO supplies routes and may be looking for some excuses to counter the reasons of anger against US. ( higher tariff on goods for NATO supply, drone attacks with the consent of Pak, special compensation to the kins of soldiers died in Salala0. Establishment very well knows the importance of US & Pak alliance for present and future.
    US can create pressure on Pakistan from all corners including China. Obama will get the NATO supply routes opened before his next presidential election.


  • Nand
    May 31, 2012 - 10:58AM

    Russia’s Putin is schedule to arrive next in Pakistan to ‘advice’.


  • Hunter Punter
    May 31, 2012 - 12:39PM

    You maybe right! China is encouraging Pakistan to stick to its guns and fight USA. Nowhere has China said, it wont give pakistan money. In fact, Pakistan must ask China for aid. Then USA can be taught a lesson!
    After all what are all weather friends for? Also, when will China show world that indeed friendship is deeper than seas and higher than mountains. what can be sweeter than honey if not money??!!!


  • Nand
    May 31, 2012 - 1:10PM

    ET is reporting Russian Pres. is coming to Pak. Another country to advise?


  • Concerned
    May 31, 2012 - 1:28PM

    @Billoo Bhaya:
    Agree with your comments. If one reads the past history between the two countries, China has never helped Pakistan in the times of wars with India, monetary crisis or the present crisis with US. Why Pakistanis still call China as an all weather friend is difficult to understand ?


  • Menon
    May 31, 2012 - 2:10PM

    In other words, don’t look to us for the lost money from the US.


  • Nand
    May 31, 2012 - 4:13PM

    @Hunter Punter:
    Are you serious? All Pakistanis do not want any aid from any country so that it can stand on its own feet. Now you want aid from China. So at the end of the say, it all boils down to money.


  • Humayun
    May 31, 2012 - 8:08PM

    Great twist “Express Tribune”, you never fail to paint the sky darker. I would like to know how ET got this private advice, most probably “an un-named official speaking on condition of anonymity (or is it animosity).”


  • Pollack
    Jun 3, 2012 - 10:04AM

    I found the body language of general kayani in the picture very interesting. I have never seen him give this kind of respect in any picture of him with any of the civilian elected leaders of Pakistan.


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