Will China Face Hong Kong Type Protest In Pakistan? – OpEd


Around six decades back, China entered Tibet forcefully and occupied the country, suppressing the protest of Tibetans and in the process killing thousands of Tibetans. Respected the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan religious leader was forced to flee from Tibet along with his followers and seek asylum in India. For over six decades now, China is occupying Tibet and the world has remained as a mute spectator to China’s atrocities and aggression in Tibet. This silence of the world community has certainly emboldened China and made it think that it can do anything in its self interest and get away with it.

Later on, when the freedom seekers in China protested against the dictatorship of communist government and it’s totalitarian regime, Chinese government massacred the protestors and the infamous Tiananmen square killings took place in China by the Chinese army. Till now, the world does not know clearly how many people were killed by Chinese army but many think that it could be several thousands.  In spite of China’s suppression of dissenters who sought freedom from oppressive regime and ruthless killings of protestors, the world remained silent. This gave further confidence to Chinese government that it could do anything, however unethical , immoral it could be and get away with it.

Emboldened by its  “successful” aggressiveness in Tibet and Tiananmen square, China appears to be convinced that the world opinion is impotent and it can take the world opinion for granted.

Then, with such confidence  in it’s capability to suppress any freedom movement, China is now mercilessly suppressing the religious freedom of Uighur Muslims in China and the world again is deliberately ignoring this massacre also , which further has convinced China that  it  would  remain unchallenged under any circumstances.

However, the present freedom movement in Hong Kong is teaching a lesson or two to China, as the pro democracy protests in Hong Kong blossom everywhere. It is known that several protestors in Hong Kong are being arrested and no one knows as to how China is exactly dealing with them. With characteristic aggressiveness, Chinese President has said that  any attempts to divide China by Hong Kong protestors would result in shattered bones.  But, protestors in Hong Kong seem to be a determined lot. The clashes between protestors and Chinese army / police  in Hong Kong has intensified after police shot a protestor at close range and a man was doused with petrol and set on fire. Hong Kong protestors have now extended the protest movement to London, when a visiting Hong Kong minister to London met with protest.

In the midst of such protest in Hong Kong, other countries are still remaining as mute spectator and silent observers clearly highlighting the fact that the conscience of the world  has gone for a toss.

However, it now appears that the communist government in China is rattled by the intensity of protests in Hong Kong and it is no more that aggressive by resorting to massive killings to suppress the protests in Hong Kong, as it did earlier in the case of Tibet, Tiananmen square and then at present in dealing with the Uighur  Muslims.

The question now is whether China will meet similar  Hong Kong type of protests in Pakistan before long, as  China  seems to be viewing Pakistan as extended territory for all practical purposes.

China’s expansionist policy is well known and China has definite scheme in Pakistan to control the Pakistan territory in some form or other. China has extended massive grant and debt to Pakistan , which Pakistan will never be able to repay  in the foreseeable future. Several strategic mines  and infrastructure projects in Pakistan  are under Chinese control now.

China is now heavily focusing on Economic Corridor project (CPEC project) in Gwadar in Pakistan.  It is known that the Gwadar port is of  strategic  and military importance to China  in several ways , including from the point of view of transportation of crude oil from middle east countries to be further transported to China from Gwadar port.

With so much of investment in infrastructure projects in economically weak Pakistan,  China has to necessarily control the governance of Pakistan and in the coming years, in all probability, the heavily debt ridden Pakistan government will have to function  without  displeasing the Chinese government in any way. The dominance of China in the affairs of Pakistan will increasingly become clear and transparent in the coming years.

It is known that Islamic extremists have  stranglehold in Pakistan today and no government in Pakistan or even the Pakistan army can confront them in a big way beyond a level. The brain washed extremists  in Pakistan are bound to assert themselves. The Islamic extremists are already finding that intrusion of China in Pakistan is against the interest of the Islam religion and there is already developing underlying thoughts amongst the Islamic groups in Pakistan that China’s interference in Pakistan should be resisted. Already, there are reports that the Pakistan army is being deployed to protect the Chinese technicians and experts working in Pakistan against the attack by the Muslim extremists. It is reported that a few Chinese technicians have been killed in the past.

Certainly, China cannot suppress the likely Islamic  protestors in Pakistan in the same way it did in Tibet and Tiananmen square earlier.  Such  likely protests against China in Pakistan would be similar to the present protest in Hong Kong and certainly Chinese government  will blink in dealing with such likely protest movement in Pakistan in the coming years, which appears to be inevitable.

Obviously, the think tank in Chinese government would be aware of such possibilities and it remains to be seen how China’s handling of Pakistan affairs  will shape up in the future.  But, China has limited choice with regard to its options in Pakistan, even as it has to have its stranglehold in Pakistan intact.

In the coming decade, the real challenge for China’s totalitarian methods,   expansionist  plans  and aggressive postures will be in Pakistan.

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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