Monday, November 14, 2011

Enhancing China-Pakistan Relations

Since establishing diplomatic ties in 1951, China and Pakistan have enjoyed a close and mutually beneficial relationship. Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognize the People's Republic of China in 1950 and remained a steadfast ally during Beijing's period of international isolation in the 1960s and early 1970s. China has long provided Pakistan with major military, technical, and economic assistance, including the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology and equipment. Some experts predict growing relations between the United States and rival India will ultimately prompt Pakistan to push for even closer ties with its longtime strategic security partner, China. Others say China's increased concern about Pakistan-based insurgency groups may cause Beijing to proceed with the relationship in a more cautious manner.
Since assuming office, President Asif Ali Zardari has declared relations with China as the cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy. To enhance and cement the bilateral relations, Zardari decided to visit China quarterly. The last visit of President Zardari to China was the fifth in a series of visits that started since assuming the office in 2008. Zardari's visit came at a time when Pakistan faces a difficult economic situation because of war against terrorism and when China has embarked on a policy to redefine its economic objectives with Pakistan in particular and the world in general.
It is important to mention here that since President Zardari assumed office, Pakistan and China have concluded 60 agreements. The main focus of the recent visit was on the new economic initiatives that have been launched recently. It includes building hydro dams, expanding banking operations, transfer of hybrid seed technology, roads and communication networks, cooperation in the agriculture sector by focusing on optimal utilization of water and development of new high yielding varieties of wheat and cotton, Thar Coal Project and dredging of Tarbela reservoir.
Proposed Civilian Nuclear Pact
The proposed China-Pakistan civilian nuclear agreement is a matter serious concern. The deal, under which China will set up two additional nuclear plants in Pakistan, will be in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), not signed by Pakistan. The NPT prohibits nuclear trade with the countries which are not signatories to the treaty. China’s argument that its commitment to supply the two nuclear reactors to Pakistan dates back to the period before 2004, when Beijing had not joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), is not convincing as the delivery of the controversial consignment will take place only now. The US rightly insists that the deal must be approved by the NSG — scheduled to meet next week — in the manner it gave its nod for the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement.
However, the required NSG approval of the Sino-Pak nuclear deal is unlikely to come about in view of the dubious track record of Pakistan. It is too well known that Pakistan has been deeply involved in the proliferation of nuclear weapon technology to various countries. Pakistan’s disgraced nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan virtually ran a nuclear mart when he provided all kinds of support to North Korea, Iran and Libya (no longer in the race) to acquire weapons of mass destruction. China, too, has been guilty of nuclear proliferation, though its controversial role has not been discussed as much as that of Pakistan. China’s role in Pakistan’s emergence as a nuclear-weapon state cannot be ignored.
Infrastructure Projects
China and Pakistan have cooperated on a variety of large-scale infrastructure projects in Pakistan, including highways, gold and copper mines, major electricity complexes and power plants, and numerous nuclear power projects. With roughly ten thousand Chinese workers engaged in 120 projects in Pakistan, total Chinese investment--which includes heavy engineering, power generation, mining, and telecommunications -- was valued at $4 billion in 2007 and is expected to rise to $15 billion by 2010. One of the most significant joint development projects of recent years is the major port complex at the naval base of Gwadar, located in Balochistan. The complex, inaugurated in December 2008 and now fully operational, provides a deep-sea port, warehouses, and industrial facilities for more than twenty countries.
Advantage Pakistan
Pakistan has benefited from China's assistance with the following defense capabilities:
Missile Technology: The Pakistan Army has both short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, such as the Shaheen missile series, that experts say are modifications of Chinese imports.
Defense: The current fleet of the Pakistan Air Force includes Chinese interceptor and advanced trainer aircraft, as well as an Airborne Early Warning and Control radar system used to detect aircraft. Pakistan is producing the JF-17 Thunder multi-role combat aircraft jointly with China. The K-8 Karakorum light attack aircraft was also coproduced.
Nuclear Program: China supplies Pakistan with nuclear technology and assistance, including what many experts suspect was the blueprint for Pakistan's nuclear bomb. Some news reports suggest Chinese security agencies knew about Pakistani transfers of nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea, and Libya.

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