Categorized | South Asian Politics


Posted on 27 May 2015 by admin


 Dr. Hasan Askari

  A recent visit to the Peking University, Beijing, China, confirms the view that China continues to be an interesting country. Despite economic liberalization and strong signs of capitalism in China, politics is still dominated by the ruling elite belonging to the Chinese Communist Party. This has advantages and disadvantages. Whereas the state controls the access to the rest of the world, the government has the capacity to pull the nation in one direction.

  Three decades ago the Chinese government decided that the Chinese should learn the English language. Now, all young people in the universities know English, although a good number of them may have problem in expressing them fluently in that language. Over the last thirty years, China has sent a large number of its young people to the Western universities, especially United States universities, for education in various fields of science, technology and business administration.

  Now-a-days, China is devoting strong attention to developing economic and trade relations with a large number of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. China is also implementing economic development and industrial projects in these countries. China’s Prime Minister visited three Latin American countries last week. Last month China’s President visited Pakistan and Indonesia. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modei visited Beijing in mid-May. Earlier in 2014, Chinese President visited several Asian countries.

  Since 2013, China is working on building road and sea links for trade with other regions like Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. It has well established trade with the United States and it has also invested funds in the United States.

  China is working on a long term strategy of converting itself into a global power with its influence all over the world. Its interest may conflict in the long run with the U.S. which is a well-established global power. China’s interest are likely to conflict in future with India as both want to play a leading role in the politics of the Asian continent.

  As part of this strategy China has adopted a three dimensional approach towards the rest of the world. This include peace on its border, trade and economic relations, and special attention to building relations with South Asia, especially with Pakistan.

  The policy of peace on its borders emphasizes good diplomatic and economic relations with the states bordering China. It shares borders with 14 states, including India. China is now at peace with all these states. With India, its trading volume is bigger than China’s trade with Pakistan. China has not given up its claims on the territory claimed by India as its own. It repeats its territorial claim on India from time to time including the claim on Indian state of Arunachal. However, it has not allowed the territorial dispute to come in the way of its political, economic and trade relations with India. The territorial dispute has been pushed to the background. Narendra Modi’s recent visit to China produced new arrangements with Chinese companies for investment in India worth 22 billion. China has patched up differences with Vietnam and Russia.

  China’s other strategy of trade and economic relations has been described as the revival of old road and sea trade routes that existed several hundred years ago between China and Africa, Europe, the Middle East and South and Central Asia. The greater emphasis is on building road links with bordering East Asian and South Asian states. A similar road system is being discussed with the states of Central Asia for establishing road link with Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

  The third dimension of China’s new policy is to build more active relations with the states of South Asia, i.e., India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Out of all South Asian countries, China assigns the greatest importance to Pakistan. It has strongest relations in South Asia with Pakistan. These relations are expected to grow a lot in the next decade. However, China will maintain economic and trade relations with India. Its preference will always be for Pakistan.

   The latest proof of the growing Chinese interest in Pakistan is the offer of construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that proposes to establish a road link between the city of Kashgar in Western China (Xinjiang region) and the Gwadar port in Balochistan. The Karakoram Highway already exists that links Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with Western China. Currently this road connection is being improved. From Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa the new road link has three routes. Two routes are on the western side of the river Indus. One route is on the eastern side of river Indus. The routes on the western side of Indus have shorter distance to Gwadar.

  This project is not simply construction of roads. It has four aspects: road-building and infra-structure development; new industrial projects along the Corridor; energy development, and the development of the Gwadar port and the adjoining area. All this is expected to cost around American dollars 46 billion. By the time the Corridor project is completed in ten to fifteen years its cost is expected to increase.

  If the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project is completed it will provide a road and sea link to Western China with the Middle East and the Arabian sea and the Indian Ocean. For Western China the road link to Gwardar means a shorter distance to sea than the present access of this region to sea via South China Sea on the other end of China.

  For Pakistan, the Corridor project opens new economic opportunities and jobs as most of the Corridor is going to be in Pakistan. It will get new industry and energy project.

  However, If Pakistan cannot control internal violence and terrorism, it will not be able to complete the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The Pakistan Army has announced new security arrangements for Chinese workers in Pakistan and it has adopted tough measures against terrorism. However, the civilian government has not been able to provide the required support to the Army for controlling terrorism. Further, a domestic controversy in Pakistan on the Corridor route has created a new political controversy. Pakistan has got a big opportunity to strengthen its economy. Hopefully, it avails of this opportunity.

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