By Nasir Naveed
Pakistan was the first Muslim country to recognize China in 1950 and the third non communist state. Pakistan then voted for a bill concerning the restoration of China’s legitimate rights in the UN. PIA became the first non-communist airline to fly into China in 1964. Since then, the two countries have regularly exchanged high-level visits resulting in a variety of agreements. The PRC has provided economic, military and technical assistance to Pakistan and each considers the other a close strategic ally.
These Bilateral relations have evolved from an initial Chinese policy of neutrality to a partnership that links a smaller but militarily powerful Pakistan, partially dependent on China for its economic and military strength, with China attempting to balance competing interests in the region. Diplomatic relations were established in 1950, military assistance began in 1966 after the India-Pakistan war of 1965, a strategic alliance was formed after the debacle of East Pakistan in 1972 and economic co-operation began in 1979 during the era of General Zia ul Haq. China has become Pakistan’s largest supplier of arms and its second largest trading partner. Over the years, frequent exchanges of high-level visits and contacts between the two countries have resulted in a number of bilateral trade agreements and investment commitments. Current trade between both countries is at $9 billion, making China the second largest trade partner of Pakistan while Pakistan’s exports to China have increased from $1bn to $2.2 billion in the last three years.
The People’s Republic of China enjoys strong defense ties with Pakistan. This relationship between two neighboring Asian countries is important in the world’s geo-strategic alliances. In recent years this relationship has strengthened through ongoing defence projects and agreements between Pakistan and China.
Since 1962, China has been a steady source of military equipment to the Pakistani Army, helping establish munition factories, providing technological assistance and modernizing existing facilities.
The countries are involved in the joint venture of several projects to enhance military and weaponry systems. The current fleet of the Pakistani Air Force includes Chinese interceptor and advanced trainer aircraft, as well as an Airborne Early Warning and Control radar system used to detect aircraft. Pakistan is producing the JF-17 Thunder multi-role combat aircraft jointly with China. The K-8 Karakorum light attack aircraft was also co-produced.
The countries are involved in the joint venture of several projects to enhance military and weaponry systems, which include collaborating in the development of JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, K-8 Karakorum advance training aircraft, space technology, AWACS systems, Al-Khalid tanks and the Babur cruise missile. The armies have a schedule for organizing joint military exercises.
China has taken a significant step in meeting Pakistan’s military needs with the completion of a militarily important naval frigate which analysts believe will further deepen Islamabad’s reliance on Beijing as a key supplier of military hardware.
China has supplied arms and military equipment to Pakistan for more than 40 years. But this relationship which originally began as a largely military hardware supply tie-up has developed into a strategic partnership.
Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani maintained that “Pakistan attaches great importance to its relationship with China, adding that both countries have extensive common interests in both international and regional affairs”.
Relations between Pakistan and China are very strong. It is an open secret that friendship between both the states is deeper than oceans and higher than mountains. Both the states must translate these relations into good economic ties. Current trade level between both the states is not satisfactory. China must invest extensively in the energy sector of Pakistan and Pakistan must also increase the volume of its exports to China.
In the last few years terrorist elements are trying to harm relations between both the states. Pakistan and China must take concrete steps in eradicating the outfit elements which are busy in hampering relations between Pakistan and China and their agenda is to amuse some other states who are not happy with the growing Pakistan China relations. The most recent attack of terrorists on an Air Force base in Kamra Pakistan shows that terrorists were there to attack on China’s provided military equipment to Pakistan. Pakistan’s security forces retaliated effectively and killed all the terrorists and they could not fulfill their nefarious design. The upcoming visit of Pakistan’s Prime Minister to China will further strengthen these relations.
The Writer has done M.Phil in Strategic and Nuclear Studies from National Defense University Islamabad Pakistan. He can be contacted on [email protected]