US likely to avoid ‘strong alliance’ between Pak-China: Report
WASHINGTON (Baaghi TV): The United States has released a report titled “A Threshold Alliance: The China-Pakistan Military Relationship”.
The report prepared by Sameer P. Lalwani of the US Institute of Peace (USIP), a federal agency with a congressional mandate, analyzes the “Geopolitical shifts in South Asia over the past decade”.
In the report, the current situation of China-Pakistan relations has been described as a ‘strong alliance’. The report states that this alliance may not be strong in the future, which may be due to China’s own wrong actions or the aggressive actions of opponents to suspend relations. Pakistan and China have a strong alliance with each other, but Beijing’s opponents, especially the United States, can avoid a complete alliance with them, the report argues.
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Geopolitical changes in South Asia over the past decade, heightened competition between the US and China, a rapid deterioration in Sino-Indian relations, and the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in 2021 have brought Chinese and Pakistani forces closer to each other, the report said. The armies and navies of the two countries are increasingly sharing equipment, engaging in more sophisticated joint exercises, and interacting through exchanges of personnel and officers, respectively.
The aforementioned report noted that in 2015, analysts had predicted, citing various reasons, a decline in Pakistan-China military relations but in the same year, President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan, and a flagship Project CPEC was introduced, under which the stakeholders announced they would sell eight submarines to Pakistan.
The report further analyzed that despite China’s distance from a formal alliance, the China-Pakistan military partnership has deepened significantly over the past decade, reaching the point of alliance. However, progress toward a military alliance is not inevitable. China has been Pakistan’s most important defense partner since the end of the Cold War. Beijing is Pakistan’s largest supplier of conventional weapons and strategic platforms.
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In less than a decade now, Sino-Pakistan military relations have evolved from an episodic partnership to a strong alliance, Sameer Lalwani wrote. Most of Pakistan’s defense equipment is largely Chinese, particularly high-end combat strike and power projection capabilities, and Pakistan is steadily moving away from US and European platforms.
According to the US report, this strong relationship has to become a stronger relationship. One signal would be for Beijing to give Pakistan more military aid and access to sensitive systems, such as the J-20 fighter or nuclear-powered submarines. Sameer Lalwani said the second point would be that their forces adopt joint peacetime missions so that they can help each other during China-India or Pakistan-India border crisis. The last point could be the Chinese Navy installing maritime surveillance equipment in Gwadar.
The author wrote that both the civilian and military leadership have categorically denied that Pakistan is in any way falling into China’s camp and have played down the pressure to choose between China and the West for relations. Given the current political and security environment of China and Pakistan, there are several points of disagreement that could slow down or reverse their military relationship from the current pace.
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The possibility of China projecting its military power on the Indian Ocean from the west coast of Pakistan is increasing. The Chinese base enjoys meaningful support in Pakistan’s strategic circles. The material and political barriers to upgrading naval access to wartime contingency bases appear to be diminishing over time.
The report stated that with reference to these points, it was stated that politically China’s attitude towards the Muslim tribe of Uyghurs in the province of Xinjiang may affect relations with Pakistan due to public disagreement. China is currently active in economic and military investment in Iran at the expense of Pakistan.
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