[This article describes China’s growing economic stake in Pakistan. It also states that “in the second half of next year, American aid packages, in the wake of the beginning of the US troop drawdown in Afghanistan, will be reduced or even stopped,” and thus Pakistan is using China as a “hedge.” In reality, the US military is not leaving Afghanistan any time soon, and US economic and military aid to Pakistan will increase in order to prop up the economy and pressure the Pakistani government to undertake more aggressive military action against Taliban bases. Thus, Pakistan will continue to be heavily dependent on the US imperialists, with Chinese investments playing a secondary economic role.–Frontlines ed.]
Pakistan heads down China road
By Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times
ISLAMABAD – Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has visited China on several occasions since taking office in September 2008, but these visits have been more ceremonial than of substance, in part because his Washington-backed government had gravitated so close to the United States orbit that even the Chinese envoy in Islamabad publicly complained.
The Pakistani military establishment’s pro-China lobby, highly influenced by now retired General Tariq Majeed, frowned on this tilt towards the US, and was especially upset that the Americans were allowed to establsh a naval base in Ormara in Balochistan province, and that US defense contractors were given a free rein in the country.
However, the post-Pervez Musharraf-era army was weak and didn’t have much choice except to turn a blind eye. This situation continued until 2009, by which time the army had regained its influence in the corridors of power and had begun to prevail over the country’s decision-making process.
Hence, Zardari’s scheduled visit to China on November 11 takes on a special significance. Notably, he has not sought the counsel of his pro-US envoy in Washington, Husain Haqqani, who has consistently advised Zardari to keep his distance from Beijing. Instead, the president on Monday held a long meeting with Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani. Zardari will attend the opening ceremony of the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, as well as meet with his counterpart Hu Jintao and senior officials.
On the surface, the leaders will discuss the Washington-opposed plan for a fifth Chinese-built nuclear reactor in Pakistan. However, the underlying emphasis will be on new moves on the grand chessboard of South Asia. Continue reading