Yesterday, I was woken up with a piece of news titled, “China to seal the border with Pakistan to curb terror”. It further read “the head of Xinjiang government was quoted by the Xinhua news agency on Tuesday as saying that security along the China-Pakistan border would be further tightened ‘to prevent terrorists from entering or leaving the region illegally in 2017’.” Aniwar Turson, a Communist party official in Kashgar said: “Terrorists who carried out attacks in the region in recent years received training from the camps of Pakistan and Afghanistan and returned illegally.” China is displeased with Pakistan over its inability to stop terrorists from sneaking into its restive border region of Xinjiang – the news further declared.
Wait, what? When did Pakistan start terrorizing China? On the contrary, I thought Xi Jinping and Nawaz Sharif were all weather friends and would be singing ‘ye dosti hum nahi todenge’, while flying together on their jointly produced JF-17 fighter jets or test-riding the under-production nuclear capable submarines.
More than that, when did Pakistan start cultivating terror camps at all? Considering the fact that China has always opposed India’s appeal to United Nations inviting a ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar, and has always denied India’s claim of Pakistan being a terror sponsor state, it was so hypocritical of China to seal borders with Pakistan and seize innocent radicals from crossing the border and hunting birds with their made-in-China assault guns.
I recall one of Chanakya’s quotes, “There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter Truth”. China and Pak are all-weather friends because Chinese interests lie with Pakistan and international relations are all about national interests. Fulfilling national interests and keeping an old friend (or a puppet friend) happy is what China basically is doing.
Apart from this, the growing demand for weapons from Pakistan has made China world’s third largest arms exporter.
‘Today, over 63 percent of Pakistan’s armaments is supplied by China, with the US dropping to 19 percent.’ an analysis by IndiaSpend.com claims. Until 5 years ago, the US and china shared an almost equal proportion of Pakistan arms imports, which was 39 and 38 percent respectively. But now Islamabad has become Beijing’s biggest customer contributing to 35 percent of its weapons exports, followed by Bangladesh at 20 percent – as a report from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reads. Although China still lags the US and Russia – the world leaders of arms exports, in the recent years it has managed to overtake long established exporters like France and Germany. So, in short, one motive of China behind lending a hand to Pakistan is to keep its economy from plunging. (Given that their GDP growth is dipping already!)
From a strategic point of view, the Dragon wants as many South Asian supporters for its South China Sea dreams to come true as possible. It needs Pakistan to counter India – Afghanistan axis. To remote control Islamabad so as to use it as it may please. China has already invested a fortune in Pakistan, which is no secret and obviously would be expecting a huge ROI. Among other things, it wants to keep its ally, i.e., Pakistan happy on one hand while on the other hand keeping India busy in issues with neighbors (also leveraging sour India – Nepal ties), while itself being a pain in the back directly. A setback in brokering a peace deal with Pak would mean a stronger India and a focused competitor.
So it’s very clear that the dragon is trying to hit many targets with a single arrow, but feels like it did turn a blind eye to the old lesson that if you pet a viper in your sleeve, it bites back. Now that Pak is a foe turned friend, it can go back being an even deadlier foe anytime China alienated and ‘sweeter than honey’ relationship between both the countries will go bitter than bitter-gourd. Seems like Pakistan has started giving constipation to China, and the day is not far away when it could neither be able to swallow nor spew the acts of Pakistan.