Commemorating 70 Years of Pak-China Relations: Manifestation of Reciprocal Diplomacy

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China and Pakistan share a long history of fraternal relations. The recognition of China by Pakistan in 1950 marks the initiation of China-Pakistan diplomatic relations. The relationship is not confined to the diplomatic dimensions but also extends to political, economic, and geo-strategic dimensions. Both countries have taken several steps to transform their relationship into strategic partnership. The ongoing strategic partnership is an illustration of deep friendship, which is the result of shared interests. There is a famous Chinese saying which reads “the journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.” This saying is, undoubtedly, materialized by the steps taken by both countries to further their relationships. Many agreements by both countries have been concluded, for instance; border agreement of 1963; treaty of friendship, cooperation and Good-neighborly in 2005 and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in 2015.  These agreements epitomize the brotherly relationship of both countries.

The recent out-break of Covid-19 has once again proved this very fact that China is Pakistan’s all weather friend. China has provided Pakistan with almost 1 million doses of vaccines. This vaccine diplomacy by China has further strengthened the relationship between Pakistan and China and proved that Pakistan can bank on its friend in the time of crisis. Moreover, China is also steadfast on provision of vaccination down the line. Not only this fraternity is restricted to medical outreach of China but also extends its tentacle in other spheres. China and Pakistan also eying to cooperate on technological advancement after the culmination of Indo-US strategic agreement in the form of BECA. It has risen the apprehensions of both Pakistan and China. China wants to extend its technology of Beidou to other countries so that they may not relay on US based GPS system. Pakistan seems to embrace that technology too.

Strategic interests of China urged it to establish relations with South Asian countries. Despite different culture, history and values, China maintained harmonious relationship with Pakistan. However, both China and Pakistan could never enjoy good relations with India. Pakistan does not share fraternity with India on account of colonial past. Kashmir also remains an apple of discord between the two countries. Both countries fought three wars of 1948, 1965, and 1971. China shares border issues with India, over which both countries had waged a war in 1962. The recent Ladakh stand-off between China and India in Galwan Valley affixes the stamp of animosity between the two countries which started back in 1962. Therefore, historically, both China and Pakistan shared a common Indian threat to their security that caused to create a strong bond of entente. India, as a factor, plays an important role in Sino-Pakistan relations. Rise of India neither is in the favor of Pakistan nor China. India covets to become a hegemon and policeman in South Asia and wants to be counted as great power in the comity of nations. These aspirations of India work as a glue in Sino-Pakistan relations. This ambition of states to counterbalance each other in the region leads to insecurity of South Asia.  

The present order of South Asia is, primarily, the result of relationship among three countries i.e. China, Pakistan and India. South Asia has become volatile due to the long enmity and estranged relationship between Pakistan and India. This volatility further exacerbated due to the enmity of China and India. Thus, these enmities entail security implication for the region. Dr. Umbreen javed defines security as a relational phenomenon. It involves not only the capabilities, desires, and fears of individual states, but also the capabilities, desires, and fears of the other state with which they interact. It evinces that insecurity is the result of interaction among the states. The contemporary security situation of South Asia is the result of the behavior of interaction among the three countries.

Triangular relationships of China-India-Pakistan invite the interests of extra-regional power to South Asia. United States has become a stake holder in the region due to China. China’s tendencies to rise not only apprehend India but also United States. Thus, United States sees in India a stronger friend to counter the hegemonic tendencies of China. In response to this, China supports Pakistan to stand against India. Therefore, the involvement of United States in South Asia transformed the triangular relationship into quadrangular. The strategic quadrangle – the U.S.-India-China-Pakistan is getting eminent as a new dynamic of the South Asian balance-of-power politics. It can be fairly stated that China and Pakistan share a common vision and shared prosperity. Both have interests with each other, and none can move in the region without the help of the other. India in pursuit of its Kautaliya philosophy of expansionism has further glued the two countries. This friendship between the two countries is likely to flourish because China needs a waterway to reach African continent and Pakistan wants to narrow its Balance of Payment. Narrowing it down further, both countries have all realistic and idealistic reasons to carry on with their amity to avoid any kind of vacuum in the region

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Hamid Ehsan Warraich
About Hamid Ehsan Warraich 3 Articles
Hamid Ehsan Warraich is an MPhil Scholar in International Relations from the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad and currently is pursuing his PhD.

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