Pakistan PM’s China visit will reinforce the anti-India axis

Indian policymakers should be ready for the next phase of synchronized China-Pakistan actions to undermine India.

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Pakistan PM’s China visit will reinforce the anti-India axis (Twitter)

The two-day visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to China, accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, beginning November 1 will be watched globally. The invite reportedly was by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang who has been sacked recently. Of significance is the fact that Shehbaz Sharif is the first head of a foreign government to visit Beijing and he is meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping, holding talks with the new leadership, and meeting Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Li Zhanshu, in addition to others.

Of late, China has been concerned about the safety of Chinese citizens in Pakistan amid insurgent attacks, especially by the Baloch outfits seeking independence and resisting the plunder of mineral resources by China and the Pakistani establishment. Baloch grievances are also because of the continuing China-backed Pakistani genocide in Balochistan with China having gifted attack helicopters. In addition, is rising unemployment and livelihood being denied to the locals because the Pakistani establishment has awarded fishing rights to Chinese nationals.

Fearing the safety of Chinese nationals, China has reduced the funding for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. Shehbaz Sharif would naturally be asking China to upgrade such financing. Whether China will demand boosting the covert PLA presence in Pakistan remains to be seen. 

Otherwise, Pakistan owes 30 per cent of its foreign debt to China. According to the International Monetary Fund, Chinese assistance to Pakistan is three times greater than what it owes to the IMF. It exceeds both World Bank and Asian Development Bank funds combined.

Pakistan owes a total debt of $30 billion to China and perhaps Shehbaz would be requesting some rescheduling of the debt repayments in order to avoid defaults. This is an ideal situation  for China to keep extracting more and more out of Pakistan in strategic terms, even as China-Pakistan defence cooperation continues to rise. At the same time, deteriorating Pakistan-Taliban relations would be of concern to China with segments of the Taliban critical of China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

An aggressive China

Having secured his third presidential term, Xi has acquired the halo of Mao Zedong without much effort by weeding out all opposition under the pretext of corruption. He is expected to go all out to realize his pet project – the resurgent "China Dream". 

As for India, Xi is buoyed by the fact that India has more or less accepted the loss of control over 1000 sq km of territory in Eastern Ladakh during the Chinese aggression in 2020 as a fait accompli and China continues to gain financially more through bilateral trade than before 2020.

Peripheral noises made by India about the border standoff are of no consequence to China when the Indian establishment terms PLA "intrusions" as “friction points” and paints the picture of ongoing disengagement from all friction points, whereas China has refused to step back after initial disengagement in some areas, and that too after India agreed to buffer zones in its own territory.  

China counts New Delhi in the US court and has aggressive plans against India. The growing India-Taiwan relationship with Chern-Chyi Chen, deputy minister in Taiwan’s economic affairs ministry, leading a 70-member delegation to India this week will set Beijing’s tail on fire. Significantly, at the last heads of state meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Uzbekistan attended by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Xi distributed maps showing Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh part of China.

Destabilizing India

China continues its aggressive buildup against India. It periodically abducts the youth of Arunachal Pradesh collecting herbs for medicines near the border. In the last such incident, two boys from the Anjaw District of Arunachal have been missing for over 60 days. The abduction of youth from Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and other northeastern regions of India for indoctrination and training for anti-India activities is part of the Chinese strategy.

China and Pakistan both eye Indian territories illegally. Both are arming and funding terrorism and insurgencies in India. Insurgent groups in India’s northeast have been regrouping in Chinese territory under the aegis of Chinese intelligence. 

And ways to destabilize India would definitely be discussed by China with Shehbaz Sharif during his China visit, although no media coverage would be allowed of these discussions. Indian policymakers should be ready for the next phase of synchronized China-Pakistan actions to undermine India.  

(The author is an Indian Army veteran. Views are personal.)  

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Uttam Chibb
Thu, 11/03/2022 - 13:23
Seems to be near the reality. However India must chalk out its own policy to counter the China-Pakistan nexus.
Deepak Adyanthaya
Fri, 11/04/2022 - 14:59
It is really futile to keep speculating on Indo Pak relations. Those bast***s have only one agenda and that is to destroy India with a thousand cuts. To say that China will help, etc.is just a waste of time. Any meaningful action will involve doing to them what they are doing to us. Pakistan is not a very peaceful and happy country. There are a number of fault lines among its tribes. We need to take full advantage and foment this discord so that the country implodes. Only that will bring about lasting peace for India. We may be able to even take over parts of that country.
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