Relations Between China Pakistan and India

In a recent speech Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, has said that China does not want to get involved in a cold war or hot war with anybody. Should it be true, it would be a game changer. However, based on empirical evidence such statement has to be taken with a grain of salt. History tells us that whenever a rising power starts to spread its wings, it comes into conflict with the existing power. That is what is happening now. During the Trump administration China has come into economic conflict with Uncle Sam. It was the economic expansion over the last three decades that made China wealthy and the wealth made it possible to acquire military gadgets.

Right now China has territorial conflict not only with India but other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Taiwan. In the Pacific it has acquired islands that are properties of the International community. As a chartered member of the Security Council it has special privilege of exercising its veto power. Yet, China is not a developed country. Many parts of it are rural and living standards in those areas are deplorable. Still, on the whole it has more money to lend and invest both inside and outside the country.

In order to be recognized as a superpower, China is running at breakneck speed. But an aging population, because of the one-child policy during the Mao era, is making things difficult. In the next decade China would have the same problem as many of the Western countries. In the past, developing countries of Africa and Latin America along with some Asian countries like Sri Lanka and Myanmar invited Chinese investments and loans. China arrived in these countries as an answer to their prayers. China brought its own people to manage projects and extracted raw materials to send to China. Slowly, the local people realized that new friends from China are doing the same thing that colonial powers used to do. Local people asserted to gain control of the projects and in many places they did.

At a time when China was under the British thumb and India was the shining jewel in the British crown it did not matter where the border lay between the two countries. But now it matters. Both countries have to decide between them where the border lies and their dispute has to take into consideration past history and present convenience. The conflict has also another side to it. Since Pakistan has a continuous grudge against India and its Generals are determined to defeat India at any cost. India's conflict with China becomes advantageous to them. If China can help them to defeat India or if China can defeat India on its own then a defeated India would be easier to be subdued by the Pakistani Army. It is not surprising that soon after India's conflict with China, Pakistanis tried to muddy the water once again. China also knows what is at stake. A fight with India would be bruising and counterproductive. With 1.3 billion people, each country is a giant in its own right. Presently, they are invested in each other.

India's Minister of External Affairs Sri Jayashankar a former ambassador to Beijing and Washington, knows the Chinese side very well. With his skillful efforts China and India have not only scaled down their conflict, they have emphasized more communication between their political leaders. China does not want to do Pakistan's urging. Besides Pakistan is an unstable country. China has sunk millions of dollars in building the Gaddar Port. But it is within the border of the Baloch people. They see the port as an avenue for the Punjabi elite wielding power in Pakistan to sell their natural resources. They resent the Chinese for building it. No matter what form of government is in Pakistan it is the Pakistani military that calls the shots. Therefore, elected officials have very little room to maneuver. The military's presence in Pakistan is everywhere. Without strong civilian organizations, a democracy is dead. Pakistani people see India and aspire to have a genuine democracy.. They cannot have it because the military would not let them. India's democracy is a danger to them. They want to remain viable in Pakistan. So one way or another they create conflict. Pakistan generated problems in Kashmir and Pakistanis crossing the border in discreet are symbols of a problem but not the problem itself. The problem is: Pakistan's people are under the claws of the military. They need to be liberated. In order to do so the people of India have to think differently. The traditional Pakistan bashing is not going to work. So far, it has not worked because we have been barking up the wrong tree.


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