WASHINGTON: According to the head of the China program at the Stimson Centre, the Chinese believe that the United States shouldn’t press China and Pakistan to restructure Beijing’s debt and shouldn’t “bad mouth” the Pakistan-China relationship.
Yun Sun, a Chinese foreign policy specialist, said Pakistan’s relationship with the US was a part of China’s broader strategy for South Asia, but “China has plenty of confidence that its relationship with Pakistan is going to continue regardless of the modalities of US-Pakistan relations.”
She said, however, that China was also revising or recalibrating its expectations for Pakistan in terms of the CPEC.
“And as a result of that recalibration, China is virtually welcoming Pakistan to rebalance its external policies. And there is a positive attitude that Pakistan is reestablishing contact with the United States,” Ms. Yun added.
China has shown strong support for Pakistan’s revision of its external alignment policy.
She said that the Chinese did not think that the recalibrating of US-Pakistan relations would harm China’s interests in the area since “India is still there” and “CPEC will remain one of the most major campaigns regardless of how people feel about it.”
She stated that China’s response to US-Pakistan relations “has more to do with what the US has said, rather than what Pakistan has said.
When questioned about China’s response to the US recommendation that Pakistan restructures its debt with Beijing, Ms. Yun replied, “This is none of your concern.
She said that she has seen several studies from China asserting that the US wants to damage relations between Pakistan and China and pleading with Washington “not to disparage Pakistan-China” relations.
Dan, is it none of our business? Another participant, Daniel Markey from the US Institute of Peace, was questioned by moderator Shamila Chaudhary (USIP).
Naturally, it is our business in some way. We consider its debt load… worry about the expansion of its economy. We saw Pakistan approaching the IMF and other lenders. Therefore, it is only proper that the US inquires about Pakistan’s other loans, including those to China, he added. “We are also concerned about the transparency gap.”
Masood Khan, Pakistan’s representative in Washington, however, outlined how the conclusion of the Afghan conflict had given Pakistan and the United States the chance to rethink their relationship.
In his keynote talk at the two-day conference, which was held this week by the Center for Security, Strategy and Policy Research (CPR), University of Lahore, the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and Engro Corporation, Ambassador Khan said that relations between Pakistan and the US had been “de-hyphenated” from those with India and Afghanistan.
The envoy stated that prior US strategy was predicated on maintaining regional balance and added that the US-India relationship stood on its own. In the new technology era, he stated, “We are engaged right now to recalibrate, reenergize and reinvigorate a broad-based partnership.”
Others lacked such assurance. Tahir Afzal, a former chief of naval staff, proposed making amends for previous transgressions to improve ties. Another occurrence is required for the connection. The relationships will be good when there is an event. We will go from being the cornerstone of US policy to the most sanctioned nation when the event is finished,” he added.
Although “there’s a lot of debate” about the area, along with Afghanistan and India, Ms. Chaudhary, a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, observed that Pakistan was not even named in the new US national security policy, unveiled last month.
“The plan is talking about Pakistan, but if you look at the topics of strategy… there’s a lot of good dialogue that we can have about how the US and Pakistan can work together.”
Mr. Markey highlighted that some people associate Pakistan’s strategic stability with the security of its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan was also crucial from a geopolitical standpoint for the US since “it’s a vast nation,” he added, pointing out that this was “a pretty restricted context”.
But the US wanted to “guarantee that these sorts of weapons are never deployed,” hence the nuclear problem was “vital to the US interests.”
The nuclear debate was also crucial to Pakistan’s perception of its security. It serves as the cornerstone of Pakistan’s regional security. So that remains a strategic worry,” he added.
As US-China and Pakistan-India ties are tense, Mr. Markey pointed out that the US and Pakistan both have strategic partnerships with India. Pakistan also cooperation with China. He claimed that to proceed, the US and Pakistan “require a stable and established balance.”