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Pak-China bhai-bhai! Does India need to worry?

Last updated on: December 21, 2010 14:01 IST

Pak-China bhai-bhai! Does India need to worry?

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During his recent visit to Pakistan, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the neighbouring nation was a valuable asset and appreciated its efforts to fight terrorism, notes senior analyst B Raman.

After completing a three-day visit in India on December 17, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Pakistan. During his stay there, he inaugurated a one-year celebration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Wen and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani jointly inaugurated on December 18 the Pakistan-China Friendship Centre, which is a Chinese-aided cultural complex built in Islamabad to promote exchanges among students, media and academic circles from the two countries. Wen had laid the foundation for the centre during his earlier visit to Pakistan in April 2005.

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Image: Pakistani PM Yusuf Raza Gilani with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao in Islamabad
Photographs: Mian Khursheed/Reuters
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Wen for enhanced military exchanges between China and Pak

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Three important events occurred during Wen's Pakistan visit. The first in order of significance was a joint courtesy call on him on December 18 by General Khalid Shameem Wynne, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, chief of army staff, Admiral Noman Bashir, chief of the naval staff, and air marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, chief of the air staff.

According to Xinhua news agency, during his meeting with the heads of the Pakistani armed forces, Wen called for enhanced military exchanges and cooperation between China and Pakistan so as to cement the bilateral strategic partnership of cooperation. He said, "The Pakistani military is a steadfast supporter and vindicator of the China-Pakistan friendship, and has played an important role in consolidating and developing their strategic partnership of cooperation."

The Chinese prime minister applauded the close exchanges between the two militaries in the areas of anti-terrorism and disaster relief, and hoped to further enhance military links to contribute to the development of bilateral ties.

Image: Wen Jiabao reviews a guard of honour during an official welcoming ceremony in Islamabad
Photographs: Mian Khursheed/Reuters
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China, an all-weather strategic partner: Pak military

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According to Xinhua, the Pakistani military chiefs described China as an all-weather strategic partner of Pakistan and said the bilateral friendship had withstood severe challenges. The Pakistani military was ready to work jointly with China to play a positive role in developing their strategic partnership.

According to well-informed Pakistani sources, the initiative for the joint courtesy call came from the Pakistani military leaders. The meeting underlined the important role the Pakistani armed forces have been playing in the development of Pakistan's strategic partnership with China.

Reports from Islamabad indicate that no Chinese military officer of comparable seniority and importance was present with Wen when he received the heads of the Pakistani armed forces to reassure them of China's continued support for Pakistan.


Photographs: Christopher Allbritton/Reuters
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China, Pak were and will always be good brothers: Wen

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The second in order of significance was Wen's discussions with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani.

"China and Pakistan were, are and will always be good neighbours, good friends, good partners and good brothers. China appreciates the strong support Pakistan has long been offering on issues concerning China's core interests, and will continue backing Pakistan's efforts in defending national sovereignty, maintaining social stability and achieving independent and sustainable economic development," Xinhua quoted Wen as telling Gilani on December 17.

Speaking at a banquet hosted by Zardari, Wen said, "For decades, the two countries have been treating each other with sincerity and supporting each other on all international fora. Our friendship is a valuable asset."

Photographs: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters
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'China-Pak friendship like a lush tree with deep roots'

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The third in order of significance was Wen's address to a joint session of the two Houses of Pakistan's Parliament on December 19 before leaving for China. In it, Wen underlined the importance of China's relations with Pakistan in the context of China's policies in the region.

"To cement and advance the all-weather strategic partnership of cooperation between China and Pakistan is our common strategic choice. It serves the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples and contributes to peace, stability and development of the region and beyond. The two neighbouring countries are brothers forever," Wen said.

"The China-Pakistan friendship is full of vigour and vitality, like a lush tree with deep roots and thick foliage. The China-Pakistan relationship is strong and solid, like a rock standing firm despite the passage of time."

Recalling Pakistan's consistent and full support to China in the past at some crucial junctures and on various issues, including issues concerning Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang, Wen said China received valuable help from Pakistan.

Image: Wen addresses a joint session of the two Houses of Pakistan's Parliament
Photographs: Reuters
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'Wen's speech in Pak parliament, a strong message to enemies'

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Talking to the media after Wen's address to their parliament, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik described it as a strong message to the enemies of Pakistan. He said Wen's address reflected the  emotional attachment of the people and the Government of China with the Government and the people of Pakistan.

"The Chinese premier's speech must have rung alarm bells to the enemies of Pakistan, which cast covetous eyes on its peace, stability, progress and prosperity. It's a strong message to the enemies."

A joint statement issued by Gilani and Wen at the end of their talks said, "The China-Pakistan relationship has gone beyond the bilateral scope, with broader regional and international influence. The Chinese side reiterated its respect for Pakistan's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. The Pakistan side reiterated its adherence to the one-China policy."


Photographs: Mian Khursheed/Reuters
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Pak has made huge sacrifices to fight terror: Wen

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Wen's visit came at a time when the Pakistani economy is going through a difficult period due to the recent floods and when Pakistan has been under increasing criticism from the US for not doing enough in the fight against the Al Qaeda and the Taliban. However, China appreciated Pakistan's efforts to counter terrorism.

Noting that Pakistan has made huge sacrifices for and important contributions to the global counter-terrorism campaign, Wen said his country is ready to work together with Pakistan to promote regional peace and stability. "Pakistan has sacrificed greatly and made great efforts in the fight against terrorism. It is a reality and the international community should respect Pakistan's efforts," said Wen.

"China believes that Pakistan is an important country in the region, which should play an important role for the maintenance of regional peace, security and stability. The two countries support the unity and the territorial integrity of Afghanistan," said a joint statement issued by Wen and Gilani.

Apart from highlighting the growing strategic partnership between the two countries and their military-military relationship, Wen missed no opportunity to underline China's economic solidarity with Pakistan and its appreciation of Islamabad's contribution to the fight against terrorism. He was reported to have promised to Pakistan low-interest loans amounting to US $ 1 billion for various projects and export credits amounting to US $ 300 million.


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No clarity over China's economic benefits to Pak

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There has been some confusion regarding the total economic benefits to Pakistan as a result of the Wen visit. The Global Times of China estimated the total value of the various agreements signed as about US $ 10 billion, but the Pakistani media, briefed by its officials, has given the figure as US $ 35 billion.

After going through the welter of confusing reports from Pakistan on the economic benefits to Pakistan, one can assess that immediately after the floods, China had pledged US $ 250 million as grants as flood relief. Wen has pledged another US $ 400 million as low-interest loans for the reconstruction of the flood-ravaged infrastructure.

Among the infrastructure reconstruction projects to be given priority is the repair, upgradation and recommissioning of the Karakoram Highway from Xinjiang.

The relatives of 350 Pakistani nationals languishing in jails in China held a demonstration in Peshawar on December 18 to demand the release of their relatives by the Chinese authorities. They have been arrested and jailed by the Chinese authorities for illegally entering Xinjiang and for indulging in narcotics smuggling. Many of those arrested for narcotics smuggling have been sentenced to death by Chinese courts.

The writer is additional secretary (retired), cabinet secretariat, Government of India, New Delhi, and presently, the director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and an associate of the Chennai centre for China studies

Image: China had pledged US $ 250 million as flood relief to Pakistan
Photographs: Reuters
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