CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

Issue in foreign Policy


CURRENT STRATEGIC RELATIONS OF CHINA AND PAKISTAN


Since 1951, Pakistan is the only country in South Asia after India to have diplomatic relations with People's Republic of China (PRC). The two states have time-tested relations and are known as the all-weather friends. China had provided tactical support to Pakistan during the 1965 war with India in which it was defeated. China had also helped Pakistan in the Wake of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in. However, in February 2006, while addressing the Pakistan-China Business Forum, former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf described China-Pakistan relationship through a verse as "deeper than the ocean and higher than the mountain." The two countries enjoy their cooperation and mutual bonding especially in the areas of borders, trade, and militaries. China is one of the world's great powers and China's influence over the South Asia and Central Asia is gaining the international attention.  

The strategic relation between China and Pakistan must be observed from an international perspective, focusing on the geo-political bonds between China, India, Russia and the United States and the struggle, difficulties among the Western and Islamic civilization in the field of growth in the Middle East adhering to the September 11th terror attacks.  

A PROLONG RELATIONSHIP  

Past-mutual cooperation between the two countries was majorly on military and political level and had not widened to the broad economic, cultural, and social. The current phase in relations begun in May 2013 with the meeting of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Pakistan Mainstream leadership which sealed the official tender of the "China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)." Subsequently, the frequent visits between the officials and leaders from both sides, including the visit of Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain to China in February 2014 and Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's following visit in April 2014 which held a strong conference over the proposal. In April 2015 during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Pakistan the proposal was officially accepted, including the signing of 51 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) between the two countries. Besides from the familiar infrastructure and energy projects, this recent phase of relations between these nations also included technological, social, economic, and even cultural cooperation. For instance, the two countries have developed bilateral exchanges in radio and mobile. The Ministry of Science and Technology in the two countries jointly established the China-Pakistan Joint Cotton Bio-Tech Laboratory; The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China set-up a branch in Pakistan's second city Lahore; Pakistan's renowned university the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) and China's Xinjiang University jointly established the NUML International Centre of Education, and China established Culture Centre in Pakistan.  

The effect of the $46 billion US dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as expressed in an interview on June 24 by China's ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong to Xinhua News Agency, where he elaborated CPEC. He said that the present focus is on four areas: transport infrastructure, Gwadar Port, energy projects and industrial cooperation. In terms of transport infrastructure, reconstruction and upgradation works of the Karakoram Highway (KKH) within Pakistan are ongoing and the construction of the Karachi-Lahore Motorway also had begun since March. Significant energy projects consist; construction of a 300-megawatt solar power plant by Chinese organisation Zonergy and work is already active on more than half of the remaining planned sixteen energy projects. In November 11, 2015, Pakistan handed over 280 hectares of land use rights to a Chinese company for a term of forty-three years for the development of Gwadar port and construction on new facilities is already in progress.  

Finally, Chinese projects in Pakistan under CPEC already employs more than 6000 Pakistani laborers, depicting that the close relations between China and Pakistan has already taken a step ahead from the policy announcement to the project implementation level. The amount of funds invested, the intensity of the exchanges, and the number of people who actively participated is unprecedented in relations between the two countries.

CHINA-PAKISTAN STRATEGIC RELATIONS: AN OVERVIEW  

"Pakistan is our Israel."  

The gradual development of Sino-Pak strategic relations has created uneasiness in the region. Beijing has always facilitated with its covert support to Islamabad in terms of military logistics and also played a key role in developing Pakistan's nuclear programme in order to bring a balance of power or to counter India's military might in South Asia. For multiple times China has endorsed Pakistan in many ways. Despite of numerous criticisms from the international community on the shortfalls of Pakistan's counter terrorism policies, China has backed Pakistan and supported its sovereignty and territorial integrity. 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."   

Nuclear Alliance  

The nuclear alliance between China and Pakistan was started in 1971. Pakistan's the then Prime Minister Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto famously said at the outcome of Indian nuclear test that "If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own." The last testament of Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto reveals that 1976 was the inaugural year for the Sino-Pak nuclear cooperation with American concerns.  

In 1986 a formal treaty resembling the nuclear cooperation was signed, due to the height of Cold War Conflict in Afghanistan, the two superpowers were leading an ideological battle for the expansion of their power. Pakistan recognized its role for being a front for the Islamic world against the communism. President Zia Ul Haq rhetorically stated "It is our right to obtain technology and when we acquire this technology the Islamic world wills posses it with us."  

The nuclear alliance gradually upgraded in the time span of 1986-1996. In addition to the services with the Kahuta nuclear reactor, China has provided tritium gas which is useful for the production of hydrogen bomb and also supplied heavy water (D20) to the Kannup reactor. It is also presumed that China has rendered its test facilities at Lop Nor in 1989 for Pakistan's nuclear test. In 1991 despite of international pressure China agreed to make Chashma 300-MW nuclear power reactor for Pakistan to get an international recognition and to exercise its nuclear power Pakistan was asked to sign an IAEA safeguard agreements regarding the reactor at Chashma.  

In 1992 China signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and signed the Test Ban Treaty in 1995. The year 1995 was significant when 5000 special ring magnets from China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation (CNEIC) were transacted to an un-safeguarded Pakistan's nuclear facility. As per the CIA Director (revealed in June 1997) "China was the primary source of nuclear related equipment and technology to Pakistan, during the second half of 1996". This relation continued till the late 1990s.  

In September 2010 China published its intention to set two additional plutonium-producing heavy water reactors in Pakistan. This all actions of China states clearly that China's interest in undertaking the deal less to the impact on Islamabad's nuclear program, and more towards Beijing's regional balance of power and strategic importance.  

Military-Strategic Nexus  

Pakistan's "all weather relationship" with China has suffered a number of ups and downs in the last six decades in spite of the whole different type of changes in their political system, while Pakistan has experienced numerous Military coups followed by military rule with democratic intervals; PRC has transited a number of domestic revolutions. By the end of the 1950s, both the nation's uttered intentions to permit each other on minor issues. While Pakistan did not openly react to Tibet's occupation by PRC, the latter did not judge Pakistan's uniting of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO), which was meant to contain China. After the end of 1962 war, their relations went through a drastic transformation. Pakistan solved the regional dispute with China in 1963 and afterwards, both countries concluded the Civil Airlines Agreement. China's final statement of terms to India during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, which was meant to free the pressure on western side, further strengthened this relationship. Pakistani media coverage of this occurrence compared it with the US embargo on arms trade with both contentious states, despite Pakistan being a member of SEATO. These were the shaping years when common vision in Pakistan began believing China as its national savior. In the 1970s the international situation took an immediate spin, East Pakistan experienced a violent revolt and China while keeping an eye over incidents shaping South Asia, was also in confusion over how to nourish its relationship with Pakistan.  

China's incapability in supporting Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, is because of extreme cold climate and the Russian increase on its frontiers, however, did not alter the bilateral relationship. Beijing made up for its earlier inadequacy by vetoing Bangladesh's passage into the UN an incident that could take place only after Pakistan itself had considered Bangladesh. As an outcome, the famous perception of China as a reliable ally of Pakistan was unyielded. By 1979, the power had shifted in China and the Chinese economy was progressing under the new presidency of Deng Xiaoping, Deng's main push was that economic ties introduce all other aspects of relations which modified the dynamics of Chinese foreign policy, which shifted closer to the US. By the 1980s, China had become the most faithful ally of Pakistan. The enhancement in relationship between China-Soviet Union and China-India pushed China to shift on some of the issues it supported Pakistan on. However, the relationship stood strong even after the end of Cold War, 9/11 attacks on the US and the collapse of the Soviet Union.  

IMPICATIONS FOR INDIA  

An escalation in tensions between India and Pakistan, the increased support of China to Pakistan encourages India's strategic partnership with the USA. Polarising the region geopolitically and increase in the threat of nuclear war is a serious concern to the subcontinent. Having all these things focused India's strategic role in the region has maximised. So, in the strategic context two major steps were taken by India. Firstly, the Chabahar Port and its progress, secondly, the Civil Nuclear Deal between India and the USA.  

Chabahar Port: Persisting Pessimism  

Chabahar port is a seaport situated in south-eastern Iran on the Gulf of Oman. It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the Indian Ocean. Chabahar is near to Afghanistan and the Central Asian nations; it is also called as "Golden gate" to these land locked countries. In 2003 India and Iran agreed to construct Shahid Behesti (a separate port of Chabahar) but did not succeed due to sanctions against Iran. In May 2016 India and Iran have signed a bilateral agreement in which India will construct and handle one of the berths at Shahid Behesti as the port consist ten berths.  

This port will render an alternative trade between to India and Afghanistan than Karachi port in Pakistan, the port handled 2.1 million tons of cargo in 2015 which soon will be boosted to 8.5 million tons by 2016. As per Rorry Daniels an American policy analyst determined that both the Chinese investment in Gwadar and the Indian investment in Chabahar as producing the perception of "strategic encirclement" as China fears encirclement by the US, India by China, Pakistan by India all these can be seen by the respective countries as "strategic containments" which all these countries attempt to break out of. As per Shishir Gupta an Indian news media commentator described Indian Chabahar port deal as "a counter to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor" as it has broken through the strategic encirclement by China and Pakistan.

INDO-US Civil Nuclear Agreement  

In July 18, 2005 the Indo-US nuclear deal has begun, this deal has been viewed as the initiation of strong relationship between India and the USA. A joint statement by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and by the US President George W. Bush under which India agreed to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and in return the US agreed full civil nuclear cooperation with India.  

On August 1, 2008 the IAEA approved the safeguards agreement with India, the US approached the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to allow waiver to India to start civilian nuclear trade. On September 6, 2008 the 48-nation NSG granted a waiver to India allowing it to assess civil nuclear fuel and technology from other nations. The implementation of this action resulted India as the only country with nuclear weapons which is not the member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). On October 10, 2008 The 123 Agreement has finally came to functioning between India and the USA, the deal is signed by Minister of External Affairs Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington DC. In June 8, 2016 the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCI) and Westinghouse agree to the contractual deals for building 6 nuclear power plants by June 2017. All of the above incidents state India's strong strategic moves towards growing relations of Sino-Pak.  

FUTURE PROSPECTS  

In 20th April, 2015 China and Pakistan signed a deal called "China Pakistan Economic Corridor" (CPEC). The overall cost of the project is US$46 billion, which aims to construct railway lines, energy pipelines, a 3000 km network of roads and fibre optic cables that will meet at Kashgar in China's Xinjiang province with Gwadar in Pakistan's Balochistan province. Both the nations view this project as a "game changer" and a way towards "regional economic connectivity" to restore the old trade and transportation routes.

In 2013 Beijing announced its initiative named "One Belt One Road" (OBOR) planning to construct land routes and maritime openings, CPEC is a part of that initiative. The corridor is special as it joins the "Economic Belt" with 21st century maritime silk route, the land route will play a big role for China, Pakistan, the Gulf region, the Middle East and more. Through Pakistan's lens CPEC will enhance the existing roadways, investment, trade and economic relations between two countries, Pakistan's willingness to be a part in China's extreme investment in CPEC is no surprise. China's "Go West" and Pakistan's "Go East" policies are the key steps for development in Gwadar and Kashgar.  

Gwadar port is important for Pakistan's economic development, due to drastic fall in foreign direct investment, 41% of Pakistan's population is living below poverty line, economic losses which have occurred because of the war on terror are calculated to be US$ 35 billion and the functional capacity of industries have been effected by 50% due to power shortages. The economic returns to Pakistan from Gwadar and its closeness to the Strait of Hormuz will act as a shipping point and trade hub and the rest of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and Central Asia will be connected through a single road, rail and air route. China and Pakistan want to use Gwadar for energy and trade transportation to Afghanistan and Central Asia with the construction of rail, road and air connection between Gwadar and the nearby surroundings all of trade from China and Central Asia will access to the shortest route via Gwadar giving numerous trade benefits to Pakistan. Gwadar would build consistent revenue and increase employment opportunities for the local residents; this as a result will bring peace and stability in this under-developed province of Pakistan.  

As an initiative with huge potential which aims to influence the future relations of both the countries, CPEC with its vision to Gwadar has also provided an option to maritime cooperation between them. China and Pakistan want to flourish their bilateral relations in the areas of search and rescue, maritime security, disaster relief at sea, environmental protection, blue economy and the maritime scientific research.  

In 2015 they signed the protocol on the establishment of China-Pakistan Joint Marine Research Centre between State Oceanic Administration of China and the Ministry of Science and Technology of Pakistan. The aim of the research centre is to patrol the increasing nontraditional threats to maritime security and to impose measures to safeguard the international sea lanes for a meaningful development on all maritime cooperation issues; also a special report forum was launched.  

During the Cold War, China aided Pakistan through its naval as Pakistan's Navy was lacking in providing corvettes and small crafts, such as fast boats for patrolling. In recent years, Chinese support has maximized from logistics, equipment and training support to include technological mobility. Being partners in the construction of F-22P frigate such as Azmat and Jalalat class fast attack craft (missile), and corvettes for the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency is one of the examples.  

The recent agreement concluding the concerns of Yuan class submarines for the Pakistan Navy will lift this cooperation to render new ways. During the visit of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) chief to Pakistan, both navies have agreed to improve the scope of existing bilateral maritime exercises in order to develop their capacity.  

CONCLUSION  

Historically, China Pakistan strategic relations are a strong example in the area of international relations despite of changes in the government in Pakistan; both the states have recognised each other at the hour of need. China has invested a huge amount in CPEC which will help Pakistan and the other nations (nations which are interested in Belt and Road Initiative) to achieve their national interests on the common grounds. Pakistan has suffered with terrorism and regional insecurity for a longtime; it is time when China should take appropriate steps to support Pakistan with its fight with terror in the region. In the growth of their strategic relations China and Pakistan must understand the regional players as well, as it may ignite an arms race in South-Asia and later may escalate dramatic tensions. India being a significant player in the South-Asian region, besides its gradual development of relations with the USA and Iran would definitely affect the region. There are multiple clashes amongst the interests of countries located in the same region and one can avoid this by settlement of disputes through peaceful ways, through open political dialogues and by creating multilateral forums to share equal benefits with their national interests to create a win-win situation which will lead to harmony in the region.            

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