MISSILE PROLIFERATION: CHINA GOES TO BAT FOR PAKISTAN

Publication: China Brief Volume: 2 Issue: 13

By Vijai K. Nair

The abrupt influx of U.S. military forces along China’s western flank has seriously jeopardized Beijing’s interests in Central and South Asia. China is unlikely to be sidelined into acquiescing to the imposition of U.S. political and diplomatic control in the region in general and Pakistan–its military counterweight to India–in particular. Even more threatening is the growing Indo-U.S. military relationship.

Pro-Pakistan Western governments have finally conceded that India’s exasperation with crossborder terrorism and its threat to resort to military action is justified. Beijing, not surprisingly, appears to have sided with Pakistan in asking India to do more to end the current crisis, as though it is responsible. [1] Beijing alone has refrained from mentioning Pakistan as a culpable correspondent. And evidence of Chinese complicity in Pakistan’s conflict with India has begun to surface.

China sees Pakistan as a key element in its South Asian policy. Pakistan is, as one Chinese general put it, “China’s Israel”. This was reinforced, during Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan’s visit to Islamabad on May 15, by a low-ranking Chinese official who said cautiously that China would back Pakistan in any conflict with India. [2] The last six months has seen a spate of bilateral visits by Beijing and Islamabad luminaries. Among the more significant: