`China not prepared to treat India as foe for Pak`

Ahmed Rashid says economic considerations mean that Pakistan can no longer rely on China for full support to it against India.

Washington: It might be an `all-weather ally` of Pakistan, but China is not prepared to treat India as an enemy as it would never want to jeopardise its whopping USD 60 billion trade with the country, eminent Pakistani author and watcher of the region, Ahmed Rashid, says in his new book.

Economic considerations mean that Pakistan can no longer rely on China for full or "unconditional support" to it against India, says Rashid, in his forthcoming book, `Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan and Afghanistan` that is slated to hit the stands on March 19.

"China wants a strategic relationship with Pakistan to balance a rising India, and Pakistan has shown a willingness to provide it.”

"But China is not prepared to treat India as an enemy, as Pakistan wants it to; rather, China wants the two countries to live in peace, not in a state of proxy war," Rashid writes.

In his latest book running into more than 230 pages, Rashid says that once upon a time, China strongly supported Pakistan`s position on Kashmir, but since the mid-1990s it is no longer the case.

"China has a massive USD 60 billion trade and business relationship with India, which it envisages will rise, six fold in the next ten years. China will not forsake that by throwing its support wholly and unconditionally to Pakistan," he says.

Many Pakistanis, he says, believe that if its relations with the United States finally break down, the lost economic aid can be replaced by China.

China is geographically close to Pakistan; it has in the past funded some major infrastructure projects, such as dams, ports, and roads; it has helped substantially with Pakistan`s nuclear weapons and nuclear energy programmes; and it has provided the military with several billion dollars` worth of heavy weapons at cut-rate prices, tanks, ships, submarines, and fighter aircraft.

"But the China-Pakistan relationship is essentially military to military, rather than people to people (Outside the military, Pakistanis don`t visit China and don`t speak Chinese). The USD 9 billion trade between the two countries is heavily weighted in China`s favour," Rashid says.

Rashid, who has authored several books, including "Descent into Chaos”, which is now considered as one of the standard reference books on the region`s recent history, argues that

China cannot oblige Pakistan the way the United States does. "It does not give cash or loans for budgetary support - it gave only one loan of USD 500 million in 2001.”

“It does not give development aid, in fact, Beijing has no government development agency to distribute such aid," Rashid says, adding that during the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods, China`s financial help was negligible, and many Pakistanis criticised its lack of presence.

The Americans provided hundreds of millions of dollars and dozens of helicopters, but the Chinese provided neither, Rashid writes.

"Moreover, China lacks the clout the United States has with the international lending institutions that are so vital to Pakistan, and with the Europeans and Japan, who are Pakistan`s main aid providers," he says.

"China is now just as deeply concerned about Pakistan`s failures and the growth of extremism there as the United States. Its diplomats discreetly point out that Pakistan cannot even protect Chinese citizens, several of whom have
been killed.”

"China is also deeply concerned about the inability of the government to carry out economic reforms," Rashid says. In addition to this, China is now increasingly becoming worried about extremism and the threat that it now faces from Islamic militancy at home.


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