China’s Belt and Road Initiative Eases Tensions in South Asia

Tien Phan

Staff Writer

The relationship between China and Pakistan has thrived despite regional tensions between Pakistan and India, according to the Daily Mail. Foreign ministers of both China and Pakistan met on March 19, hinting at signs of stronger diplomatic relations. In terms of building partnership with a common goal, this kind of diplomatic tie ought to be encouraged.

Ever since the end of the colonial era of Great Britain, these two neighboring states have been involved in four wars. Three of these wars involved the conflict in the state of Kashmir, according to the South China Morning Post. Despite giving the choice of siding with either Pakistan or India, the Kashmir leaders chose India, which may provoke Pakistan to assert itself into an all-out war.

China’s involvement in this conflict is rather unobtrusive because China wants to further its economic plan instead of getting involved in a physical conflict that might damage its long-term vision. Thus, it is not surprising that China continues to support Pakistan in face of the recent suicide bombing attack carried out by the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) organization, which led to the deaths of 40 Indian police officers in February.

In fact, in a UN Security Council meeting regarding this matter on March 13, China blocked the international community’s effort to blacklist the leader of the organization that carried out the bloody attack, reports New York Times. This is not the first time China vetoed such an attempt. The reason being given by the Chinese delegation is that the evidence given to further this attempt is not sufficient enough for China to agree to the plan.

The implication of Beijing’s relationship with its South Asian allies is undeniable, but recent escalation has put the second world economy in an odd position, according to CNN. Maintaining support of both Pakistan and India for economic development is looking positive, however, the situation with Pakistan complicates China’s relationship with India. It may appear that New Delhi is neglected when compared to its in-conflict neighbor.

Despite this, Global Times reports the first China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be able to ease tensions, not only with Islamabad’s neighbor, but also to ensure stability in the region through cooperation on many fronts. The strategic dialogue serves as promises between the two states because it is in both of their common interests to achieve common goals such as conflict management and economic development.

In a quote to Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmooh Qureshi, Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan said that “China supports Pakistan’s efforts to seize development opportunities and handle challenges, and manage its ties with neighbor.” This underlines Pakistan’s importance to China and how these two powers view each other. In a later discussion with his counterpart in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Wang Yi included a similar tone in the conversation.

Inevitably, over the course of the last decade, China has been an essential ally to Pakistan in the region. On the report of the Observer Research Foundation, though not explicitly stated, China is equivalent to the United States in terms of its alliance to Pakistan. With China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Pakistan has received enough funding for infrastructure, defense, and public services, yet the funding is large enough for Islamabad to not be concerned about U.S. influence.

For Beijing, Pakistan is the gateway to expand further West, connecting Xinjiang with the Sea Port of Gwadar. The ultimate achievement is economic growth for all sides, not just regional influence for Chinese officials. Therefore, any conflict would not be preferable to China because it can destabilize Beijing’s stance on many of their ambitious plans.

Witnessing the attack by the JeM, China, though still supporting Pakistan, issued a statement condemning the actions and calling for the crimes to be held accountable. Without complicating the issue any further, China is on the right trajectory as it supports Pakistan to a certain extent.

Not ensuring India may be questionable because New Delhi is also one of Beijing’s allies for South Asia, and risking that relationship can bring about inconceivable economic consequences in the future The News states that for the moment, China holds a strong tie with Pakistan amid the complicated conflict. China’s regional goal is to ease this tension between its two allies and develop more measures to prevent terrorist activities in the future.

 

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