China and Pakistan have reaffirmed mutual support in what is perhaps a symbolic gesture following the souring of Islamabad’s relations with the US over the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The two have been firm allies for 60 years but the timing of their meetings this week gives their statements of mutual support an extra edge.
Report, background & analysis: Keep Hands off Pakistan, China tells US [The Nation, 19 May 2011]
China and Pakistan pledged to their economic and military ties. They signed three agreements for economic cooperation- including one which seeks to expand banking and mining co-operation. China also offered Islamabad ‘anything’ it needs to strengthen its defense and to revive the economy. Leaders of both countries have also agreed to work together to enhance peace and security in the region.
In order to go the extra mile, China will also offer scholarships to 500 Pakistani students for studies in Chinese educational institutions, and help treat 1,000 cataract patients from Pakistan, half of them within this year. Moreover, both countries will set up cultural centres in each other’s countries.
Report, background & analysis: China Vows to Stand by Pakistan [Daily Times, 19 May 2011]
The summit saw Mr Wen Jiabao, China’s Prime Minister providing much needed public support to Pakistan on Wednesday, assuring Yusuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s visiting prime minister that China is an ‘all-weather friend’. “No matter what changes might take place in the international landscape, China and Pakistan will remain forever good neighbours, good friends, good partners and good brothers.”
Mr Gilani in turn said that Pakistan would like to see China take a dominant role in world affairs. “I have no doubt that Chinese sagacity and thought will have a profoundly beneficial impact for mankind, as a whole,” Mr Gilani said. “We are happy to see China shape the 21st-century world.”
The sudden statements of reemphasized mutual support have raised concern in the US Congress.
Report, background & analysis: Show of Support as China hosts Pakistan PM [Financial Times, 19 May 2011]
Prior to these statements, China had conveyed to the US, during the recent China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue, that no country has the right to violate another country’s sovereignty, thereby making clear China’s stance on the US’s violation of Pakistan’s airspace to attack Osama bin Laden.
“China supported Pakistan’s cause on its own,” Mr Gilani said, “China has asked the US to work with Pakistan in improving their bilateral relations in view of the present scenario.