Pak-China Partnership and Regional Peace | By Prof Dr Muhammad Khan


Pak-China Partnership and Regional Peace

ON August 10, 2021, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong had an in-depth meeting with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at General Headquarters.

As per ISPR, issues related to common interests of both countries came under discussion during the meeting. For China, Pakistan is a key state in the region.

Owing to new developments in Afghanistan where Taliban are winning over the Government forces, both Pakistan and China are concerned over the future status of this state. Neither Pakistan nor China would like Afghanistan to get into an unwanted civil war-like situation.

Unfortunately, President Ghani did not let the reconciliation process move forward for an amicable and political solution between Taliban and Government. US forces will be out by end-August and the US President has left everything to the Kabul Administration.

Indeed, the US has created a mess in Afghanistan and is now leaving without clearing that. Restoration of peace in this already war-torn country is a big challenge for Pakistan and China.

Apart from other issues of mutual interest, Gen Bajwa and Nong Rong had detailed discussion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and security issues, facing this gigantic project.

The project is very very significant for Pakistan as well as China. There are many rival powers and forces, trying to sabotage it by all means.

The Dasu incident was an unfortunate incident in which many Chinese and Pakistani lost their lives as a result of terrorist attacks.

Pakistani security divisions are very particular about the security of all those working on CPEC and CPEC related projects.

The Army Chief assured the Ambassador about the safety and security of Chinese nationals and Chinese interests. On his part, the Ambassador greatly appreciated Pakistan’s sincere efforts for the smooth construction of CPEC and ensuring peace and stability in the region.

Ambassador Nong reiterated that China would continue to support Pakistan as a strategic partner. Indeed, CPEC is part of Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global project that China initiated in 2013.

The concept of globalization can well be defined as global interconnectedness, which is achieved through regional connectivity.

Regional connectivity in turn is achieved through the development of communication network between two or more states and even within the boundaries of a state.

The CPEC aims to promote interconnectedness between China and Pakistan, but has the plans and potential for regional integration within South Asia and areas of Central and West Asia.

As per the British geographer, Halford John Mackinder, who talked about the heartlands and geographic pivots, in his article, “The Geographical Pivot of History” said, Pakistani geopolitical position fits into the definition of geographic pivot, connecting various regions of Asia, politically as well as economically.

As part of Chinese ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy the CPEC once fully constructed would integrate India, Afghanistan, Central Asia and West Asia.

Through India, other states of South Asia will be direct and indirect beneficiary of the CPEC. The economies of these countries would be connected to the other regions of Asia and even with the global economy.

This fact is very much known to India, but, its enmity and rivalry with Pakistan and China is the main factor, where it opposes the corridor in the realm of power politics and to please its masters in the US.

Indeed, the CPEC is not a new concept, rather a continuation and expansion of the Karakoram Highway (KKH), constructed in the 1970s through 1980s by Pakistan and China through difficult and very high altitude terrain. It is the same KKH which is being expanded to the level of the corridor; the CPEC.

Upon its successful completion, CPEC will boost regional integration and economic prosperity, the benefits of which would be for all and India, being a major economy, will be the major beneficiary.

If India can ask for a transit trade route for its economic linkages with Central Asia through Afghanistan, and is a partner of the TAPI, there should be no reason for India opposing the CPEC through political statements and promoting terrorism along the route of CPEC. Pakistan otherwise had raised two security divisions for the physical protection of CPEC.

Iran is likely to become a stakeholder of the CPEC after its economic deal with China; first in January 2016 and later in July 2020.

China agreed to invest $400 billion in Iran over 25 years in exchange for a steady supply of oil to fuel its growing economy under a sweeping economic and security agreement.

This deal will deepen China’s influence in the larger Middle Eastern region, where India and the US are really worried. US President Joe Biden has offered Iran for renegotiations with Iran over the 2015 nuclear accord also.

Both Pakistan and China favour restoration of the 2015 Nuclear Deal. It is to be noted that over 70% of Chinese oil transportation is taking place from the Middle East and Africa, all passing through the Strait of Hormuz which make Iran a significant state.

The IP gas pipeline has potential to be further extended to China and CPEC will be the best suited route as an energy corridor.

Besides Iran, the Central Asian Republics have the huge potential and reserves for the contribution to sale in the international market.

On July 30, 2021 Gen Bajwa, while highlighted the security situation, said, “In the evolving security milieu Pakistan-China partnership was becoming increasingly important for regional peace and stability.

The General was addressing the ceremony held at GHQ to commemorate the 94th anniversary of the founding of China’s Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA). The ceremony was attended by Amb Nong Rong and other senior Chinese officials too.

In fact, Pak-China relationships are unique and robust, no matter how the world situation changes, they would always stand together in safeguarding the national sovereignty, territorial integrity and maintaining regional peace and stability.

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