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China-Pakistan alliance strengthened post bin Laden


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When Chinese leaders welcome Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to Beijing this week, they will likely praise Sino-Pakistani “friendship” over the past 60 years - a stark contrast to recent Western criticism of Islamabad - (File Photo)

BEIJING: Tensions between the US and Pakistan over the killing of Osama bin Laden and a speedier US withdrawal from Afghanistan are likely to reinforce China and Pakistan's already strong ties, analysts say.

When Chinese leaders welcome Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to Beijing this week, they will likely praise Sino-Pakistani “friendship” over the past 60 years - a stark contrast to recent Western criticism of Islamabad.

Analysts say Gilani's visit starting Tuesday will help Islamabad deflect mounting pressure from Washington and elsewhere, as Pakistan stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its long-time ally and neighbor.

“China is the only country that has taken a sympathetic stand for Pakistan after the bin Laden operation,” Talat Masood, a political analyst and retired Pakistani general, told AFP.

“This visit is important in the sense that it could counter (US) pressure on Pakistan. It shows Pakistan wants to say we also have some cards to play.” China has shown unswerving support for Pakistan since US special forces killed bin Laden at a compound near the country's top military academy on May 2, sparking speculation that Islamabad may have known about his whereabouts.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu pointed out a few days after the al Qaeda chief's killing that Pakistan was nevertheless “at the forefront of the international counter-terrorism effort”.

Beijing's goodwill has not gone unnoticed.

“At this crucial juncture of history, I cannot say anybody is standing with Pakistan except for China,” Pakistan's popular opposition leader Nawaz Sharif told reporters.

Many in Pakistan, outraged by the unilateral US raid, are increasingly convinced that their nation's strategic alliance with the United States since 2001 has been less than positive and has only made the country less stable.

It could therefore be tempting for the nuclear-armed Islamic republic to move away from the United States and get closer to faithful ally Beijing, analysts say.

“If US and Indian pressure continues, Pakistan can say 'China is behind us. Don't think we are isolated, we have a potential superpower with us',” Masood said.

China is the main arms supplier to Pakistan, which sees Beijing as an important counter-balance to India - which has recently tightened its ties with the United States.

Beijing has also agreed to build several nuclear reactors in Pakistan.

Kerry Dumbaugh, an analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses, said Pakistan's pro-China stance on issues such as Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its own territory, is also a key factor in Beijing's support for Islamabad.

“Pakistan serves as an advocate or a conduit for China in the Islamic world,” Dumbaugh said.

According to other experts, China is convinced that Pakistan will increase its influence in Afghanistan by 2015, taking advantage of the planned withdrawal of US troops.

China also needs Islamabad's cooperation in stemming potential terrorist threats in its mainly Muslim region of Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan.

Ultimately, China wants calm to reign, particularly in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, through which it plans to transport oil from the Middle East in a pipeline linking Xinjiang to the Arabian Sea.

But experts warn that friendship between China and Pakistan has its limits.

“China is important for Pakistan and will remain so, but when it comes to hi-tech you have to go to the US and the West, also because of their clout in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund,” political analyst Hasan Askari said.

Andrew Small, an expert on China-Pakistan relations at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, agreed.

The Chinese “get what they want out of the relationship already - having Pakistan to provide balance in the region to try to keep India tied down in South Asia rather than becoming a broader Asian or global power,” Small said.

“They're not going to want to be in a position where they end up with Pakistan on their plate to deal with.”

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Comments (6) Closed

A.Bajwa May 15, 2011 04:24pm
The problems are within Pakistan. Neither GOP nor the Pakistani society has come out openly against terrorism. You see ambivalence all around, particularly in the Media.Even the Parliament did not come out clearly on the tough issues Pakistan faces. The Nation did not mourn those young men who were killed in the blasts in Charsadda, the way Osama was mourned.That is a clear signal to the terrorists where our heart lies.
Enter your name... May 15, 2011 08:07pm
Strengthen of Business ties It is time for Pakistan to strength ties with China, Pakistan should trade with China in its local currecny instead of dollar, dollar has been always a concering point for Pakistan , so we should trade wiht China in Yen (Chinese loacl currecny) instead of dollar
Jonaid May 15, 2011 09:49pm
When we talk about relations between countries, a lot of these EXPERTS forget that they are talking about hundreds of millions of people. The state can project whatever policy but the eventual faith is decided by the people. China and Pakistan are neighbors and the people to people contacts are very good and friendly. People to people contacts between Americans and Pakistanis are also pretty good. However, American public opinion is very much controlled by American propaganda machine which is controlled by Zionists. Let's hope that people will smartten up enough to think about a entire world full of peace instead of leaders pushing to keep only their population well-fueled and well-fed at the cost of other nations. That is NOT what humanity is about and no religion advocates such rationale.
Imran May 16, 2011 04:24pm
Thanks for your expert views. slight correction, chinese currency isn't Yen! Look it up...
Aftab Ahmad May 19, 2011 01:25pm
I fully agree with you and believe that people contacts really rule the relations as the rulers one day or the other have to go with such nice allies like China the great.
nasir May 21, 2011 09:36pm
pak should change its policy and try to form a relationship with russia and china to counter u.s. u.s. has never been honest with any country be it pakistan or india or any other nation.