Guest Lecture on “Management of Relations by China with India and Japan: Policy Lessons for Pakistan” by Mr. Fazal-ur-Rahman, Executive Director ‘Pakistan Council on China’, organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute, on September 10, 2014 at IPRI Conference Hall.
Salient aspects of the lecture are as under:-
- China borders 14 countries – Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakstan, Mongolia, and Russia. Marine-side neighbors include eight countries North Korea, Korea, Japan, Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. Over the years, political stability and economic progress have remained the cornerstone of Chinese foreign policy. Whether, it was Deng Xiaoping, or Jiang Zemin or Hu Jintao, the leadership’s aim was to enhance internal stability/security, and foster economic linkages with the region.
- Today, Chinese economy has become an integral part to regional stability/progress. ASEAN has a positive trade balance with China. China’s economic growth has contributed towards regional integration.
- China’s progress is not limited to the region. The country’s stature is being recognized internationally. The reinforced politico-military and economic links of US with the region are aimed to constrain China’s influence, (Pivot to Asia Policy). US’s defence cooperation with Australia, Japan, South Korea, India and ASEAN states are steps to counter China’s increasing influence in Asia Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions. On the economic front, the US and its allies (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada, Chile, Peru, New Zealand) are negotiating a free trade agreement and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). TPP aims to strengthen US business opportunities in the region and counter China–ASEAN trade.
- Chinese leadership, well aware of the emerging regional dynamics, has tried to pacify its burgeoning image. The prime actors in policy making are the Communist Party of China (CPC), Politburo Standing Committee and People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The term ‘Rising China’ is being replaced with ‘Peaceful China’. Business community and academicians are also active in policy making. The academics and think tanks also contribute in the formulation of security policy. Another group active in decision/policy making are the netizens. These are the people on social media, who influence the public opinion. All these developments depict a culture of debate in China.
- China is making efforts to engage Japan and India economically. Seen in the bilateral context, China and Japan, apt to their hostile past, still suffer from trust deficit. In Sino-India relations, the issue of border dispute still haunts the bilateral ties. On the regional front, both Japan and India view Chinese claim over South China Sea and East China Sea as unlawful. At the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Japan and India have sided with the other regional claimants. The economic relations of China with Japan and India have lessened the strain in their ties. China thinks Indian role in South China Sea with suspicion. Meanwhile, Netizens are of the opinion that smaller states like Philippines should not confront China (over South China Sea dispute). Similarly, India considers South Asia as its domain and China’s string of pearls strategy is a source of concern for India.
- China’s growing interest in other countries/regions is not only to expand its area of influence, but also to secure energy supplies for its rapid growth. Chinese investment in Afghanistan (Aynak Copper Mine) and building of ports in South Asian countries (Strings of Pearl) are steps in this direction.
- Another threat to China’s progress is terrorism/extremism. Extremist elements (ETIM – East Turkistan Islamic Movement) are operational in southern province of Xinjiang. China through economic empowerment of the area is trying to counter extremism.
- What lessons Pakistan can learn? Can Pakistan, like China engage Japan and India? Seen from the economic angle, China’s relations with Japan and India are economic centric. In the backdrop of Pakistan’s struggling economy, Pakistan is no more an attractive site for foreign investors. Besides, due to terrorism the environment is not conducive for investment. Japan and India being important regional countries, Pakistan can develop economic and trade relations with these countries, although with India, Pakistan will have to achieve simultaneous progress on resolution of Kashmir and other disputes.
- Will China support India for its UN Security Council Membership?
China is likely to go slow on this issue.
- Growing India-Japan relations, how Pakistan can benefit?
India and Japan emerging relations may further enhance the importance of Pakistan, in China’s calculus. China as a counter measure would re-orient its policies towards the region and in this effort, Pakistan could be a natural contender.
- Chinese President’s visit to Pakistan has been postponed. What are its negative effects?
The visit postponement has delayed Chinese investment which was needed for hastening up the progress on the Pak-China corridor and other important energy and infrastructure related projects.