Recently, China used its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to put a hold on the UN Security Council’s Al Qaida and ISIL (Daesh) Sanctions Committee’s (also known as the UNSC 1267 Committee) listing of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist Sajid Mir, one of India’s most wanted in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
What is the issue here?
- China’s misuse of its P-5 status disrupts collective efforts to counter terrorism. Such actions are in direct contrast to the consensus at the global level on the scourge that is international terrorism.
- Counter-terrorism is not the only area in which the Sino-Pak tandem has weakened global efforts. The two have a long history of collusion in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems as well.
- There are other examples of collaboration in military matters and in the area of infrastructure and connectivity that have proved destabilising to regional stability in South Asia.
Missile proliferation –
The Sino-Pak nexus in the field of nuclear and missile proliferation is well recorded. The illicit A.Q. Khan network evolved into a three-way proliferation with China and Pakistan helping one another with bomb designs. Together, the two countries also helped North Korea with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) technologies.
Military ties –
- Strong military ties have been the bedrock of China-Pakistan relations since the 1960s. For China, this has emerged as a low-cost tool to balance India and keep it hemmed in the sub-continent.
- Around 47% of China’s military exports go to Pakistan and involve the full spectrum of support from small arms to fighter jets, as well as ships and submarines.
Connectivity and trade ties –
- The so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) is one of the mainstays of connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- It violates the Sino-Pak border agreement of March 1963, Article 6 of which explicitly refers to its interim nature. Undertaken without any wider consultation with India, which has territorial claims over the region through which it runs, the CPEC has proved disruptive to both India-Pakistan and India-China relations.
- China got engaged in the CPEC project for its own ends, more strategic than economic. The Karakoram Highway passes through the Khunjerab Pass and facilitates direct linkages between occupied Kashmir territory on both sides, including the trans-Karakoram tract of Shaksgam claimed by India, now part of China-occupied Kashmir.
- The CPEC offers China access to the Indian Ocean, natural resources and facilitates greater control over a strategic partner prone to upheavals.
- Today, China is one of Pakistan’s largest lenders, holding more than 27% of Pakistan’s debt. Bilateral trade hovers around $20 billion but is skewed in favour of China which enjoys a huge favourable balance of trade in the region of $18 billion.
Kashmir issue –
- One of the abiding features of the Sino-Pak collusion concerns the status of Jammu and Kashmir. During the 1950s, China’s position on the Kashmir issue was relatively neutral.
- In the 1960s and 1970s, after the border conflict with India, China stepped up its rhetoric of support for “self-determination” for the people of Kashmir on the basis of UN resolutions.
- As the 1980s progressed and as relations between India and China gradually improved, China’s stand underwent some change, with emphasis on resolving the issue on the basis of UN resolutions and relevant bilateral agreements.
- After the abrogation of Article 370 by India in August 2019, China vehemently opposed the internal political changes effected by India. China unsuccessfully tried, thrice, to trigger discussions on J&K in the UN Security Council at the behest of Pakistan. Itself a party to the Kashmir dispute, China is surreptitiously pushing Pakistan to alter the status of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) by converting it into its fifth province. The intention is to dilute the interim character of the 1963 agreement between the two countries and consolidate the de facto possession of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) territory by Pakistan and that of Shaksgam by China.
Political support –
- Apart from synchronising their positions at the UN, China and Pakistan have created new tandems extending to other international organisations such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
- Pakistan is China’s main bridge to Islamic world. Pakistan plays a key role in fending off pressure on China within the OIC on account of its human rights violations in Xinjiang and the ill-treatment of its Muslim minorities, especially the Uyghurs.
- Pakistan also remains sensitive to Chinese concerns with regard to East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) separatists seeking refuge in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas).
There is little doubt that China uses Pakistan as a proxy military and nuclear power against India. A key strategic objective for China is to seek access to basing facilities in Gwadar and other sites in the Indian Ocean littoral. Moreover, Pakistan’s use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy appears, ironically, to be valued and encouraged by China, as demonstrated by the latter’s actions at the UN.
Source – The Hindu
QUESTION – Discuss how the burgeoning China-Pakistan nexus has been a cause of trouble for India. What factors bind these two countries together, apart from the common rivalry against India?