Pakistan-China Relations And Xinjiang Unrest – Analysis

China and Pakistan are indeed all-weather friends. Both have long been allies, but Pakistan has leaned closer to China after its tense relationship with the United States, its major donor, was strained when U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden and the NATO attack on Salalah check post.

The Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region has become one of China’s most unstable regions in recent years, as well as a source of tension between China and Pakistan, which borders Xinjiang. Beijing has increasingly begun accusing suspected attackers in Xinjiang of being trained by Muslim extremists across the border. Most recently, at least 20 persons including policemen were killed in Xinjiang and in the past one year, at least 25 Tibetan monks and lately civilians have set themselves afire demanding freedom.

Uighurs, many of whom are Muslim and have close cultural ties to the Turks, have carried out a number of attacks against China’s majority Han ethnic group in recent years. In 2009, nearly 200 people were killed during ethnic riots in the Xinjiang regional capital of Urumqi.

China - Pakistan Relations
China - Pakistan Relations

China is of the view that incidents of violence in Xinjiang on Islamic separatists who want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan. And militants trained in Pakistan and criminals manipulated by the exiled Dalai Lama were responsible for violence in some of China’s most remote and frequently restive regions.

China believed that it has found a ‘thousand and one’ links between the militants in its volatile Xinjiang province and terrorist groups in Pakistan but bailed out that Islamabad has promised full support to stamp out terror threat.

Pakistan, have said over and over again they oppose any violent activities directed against China and will maintain China’s national sovereignty and core interests. Pakistan has categorically stated that China is facing a network of militants entrenched, but Pakistan is trying to stamp out violence and protect China’s interests.

Unfortunately, the 2010 uprising at Urumqi was spearheaded by elements that took their training in the camps of East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) (declared terrorist by the UN in 2002) inside Pakistan, most probably in the terrorist camps organized by al Qaeda. ISPR spokesperson underlined that “the Pakistan Army has been and would continue operations against ETIM, and our cooperation (with China) will continue”.

We can not leave the involvement of India in the regions. India believes that Chinese forces are present in the Gilgit Baltistan region and their presence is an alarming threat for them. India has for long being insisting that Chinese involvement in Gilgit Baltistan is unwarranted since the territory is disputed, to which the Chinese pay little heed.

WikiLeaks has also exposed the Indian role against Pakistan. On December 15-16, 2009, Treasury Department Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Howard Mendelsohn, along with GRPO officers and Treasury analysts, met with senior officials from the UAE State Security Department and Dubai’s General Department of State Security to discuss suspected Taliban-related financial activity in the UAE. GDSS believes that India has supported Pakistani Taliban.

On the one hand, the US is unhappy with the Pak-China relations on the other hand Indian backed Taliban and Dalai Lama are playing a dirty game in the region to create disharmony between the two peace loving countries. The killing of Hua Jiang a student of the Beijing Foreign Studies University in Darra Adamkhel and the acceptance of the Tehreek-i-Taliban of such acts and relates to avenge the atrocities committed against Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province is the also the part of that dirty game.

No doubt that China has emerged as one of Pakistan’s staunchest defenders in recent years, and a critical supplier of civilian and military aid, particularly as its ties with Washington have soured. Some analysts have said the increasingly public accusations suggest Beijing is either unhappy with Islamabad’s counterterrorism efforts or is keen to show that attacks in Xinjiang originated abroad. But such violent activities by individual terrorists will not affect the close friendship between China and Pakistan.

Both (Pak-China) states have joined the Shanghai Forum organized by China to prevent the rise of terrorism in the region. Pakistan has taken effective action against al Qaeda-linked elements in our Tribal Areas attracting Uighur recruits from Xinjiang. The Chinese authorities have recognized this. It is true that such events can not affect the strong understanding between the all weather friends.


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Dr. Imran Ali Sandano

Dr. Imran Ali Sandano

Dr. Imran Ali Sandano is an author of "Sufism and Peace: A Counter Strategy of Extremism" and "Separatist Movement of Balochistan: A Non Traditional Security Threat" books. Currently, he is working as Senior Research Fellow at Nontraditional Security and Peaceful Development Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China. His areas of interest are nontraditional security issues, terrorism, and conflict resolution, diplomacy, and Sufism. Dr. Sandano is a regular writer of different newspapers and weekly magazines. He holds PhD degree in Nontraditional Security Management, M.Phil degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, Masters in International Relations. He can be reached at [email protected] Tweeter iiimran110.

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