The Changing Dynamics and New Developments of China–Pakistan Relations

India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs

Pakistan’s relationship with China is usually described in the prism of national interests instigated largely by the regional security architecture and its own economic imperatives. Arguably, this narrative is justifiable in the backdrop of Pakistan’s search for security in a perceived hostile neighborhood. A good relationship with China, hence., became a rational choice for Pakistan’s political and security elite.

Maintaining a perpetually friendly relationship with China has been a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy yet creating a strong structured partnership has been a gradual process and is a complex interaction of pragmatic national interests.

These national interests are multifaceted and could take an alternate course according to changing regional and international scenarios. However, in Pakistan’s foreign policy architecture, friendly relationship with China has seen an upward trajectory which has been endorsed and carried along by the successive governments in Pakistan (Siddique, 2014).

Statesmen from both, the countries had been cognizant of this crucial relationship and adaptive in their perspectives of each other. This paper looks at the historical background of the relationship between the two countries to understand the dynamics of this friendship and the current warmth in their friendship.

Pakistan and China mostly share common strategic and economic interests and hold similar viewpoints on the regional geostrategic environment. From the Chinese perspective Pakistan is a significant regional ally which serves:

  • A link to the strategic maritime outlet to Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf which is the channel for 20 per cent of the Global Oil trade.
  • Is a bulwark against perceived Indian regional hegemonic ambitions.
  • Is seen as instrumental in peace and stability in Afghanistan, imperative for greater regional connectivity and to impede militancy and extremism in China’s Xinjiang province.
  • In addition, China also favors a peaceful South Asian region aimed at Pakistan–India economic partnership that would serve as more substantial economic connectivity (Hartpence, 2011).

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