Pakistan, India and the view from China

June 25, 2008

File photo of India Pakistan border at Wagah/Munish SharmaThe People’s Daily does not run editorials very often about Pakistan and India, so when it does, I pay attention.  It just published an op-ed about the latest talks between India and Pakistan on counter-terrorism. The talks themselves appeared to yield little in actual results. Yet according to the People’s Daily, it was an “important step towards mutual political trust”.

“The efforts for peace once again prove that dialogue is the sole path to resolving differences between countries,” it says. “India and Pakistan’s steps on this road are not big yet; but they are moving, in a positive direction.”

Is this an example of China taking on a U.S.-style role of regional policeman? Would India and Pakistan feel uncomfortable about such a role?

Maybe not. India and China decided years ago to put the bitterness of their 1962 border war behind them in order to concentrate on winning a place at the top table in the global economy. India’s nuclear deal — the centrepiece of its rapprochement with the United States — appears to be running into trouble at home — leaving it all the more in need of friendly neighbours on its own doorstep.

Pakistan has always seen China as a more reliable friend than the United States, as underlined in this Yale Global Online backgrounder. With relations between the United States and Pakistan getting tetchier by the day, you would expect Islamabad to turn to China for help.  Plus China seems to be pumping investment into Pakistan, of which this story in the Daily Times about it offering Chinese skilled labour to build a dam is just one example.

In the Nubra valley on the road to Siachen/Pawel KopczynskiSo is the United States losing its place in South Asia? And is China stepping in to fill the gap? It’s worth remembering that China, India and Pakistan all have a stake in Kashmir since all of them control parts of what was once the former kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir.  And the Siachen war is the only conflict in the world to have been fought in a place where three nuclear-armed powers meet.  If these three countries are now trying to pull together, what kind of role does the United States have left in the region?


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

The answer is very simple. All of three countries have seen colonialism and how the colonial powers cooperate to divide the enslaved nations, even today. The claim to be civilised word is only skin deep and a very see through skin. The also many a common things like, poverty, public awareness and have the awareness that they have to save themselves from not their neighbors but the colonial powers in order to survive and prosprous. The rule of aristocrats is gone Particularly in India, the chinese are no more the dictators they once needed to be and the pakistan knows well enough that it cannot afford to loose chinese over the West and the chinese know that confrontation with the Indians is stupied politically in todays game. So you dont have to go figure.

Posted by Nader Junaid | Report as abusive

At the moment, the Chinese seem almost exclusively focused on building a very strong national economy and strategic capabilities to prepare for world leadership later in the 21st century. Their international diplomatic efforts through aid and trade are aimed at securing natural resources in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Australia to ensure the sustainability of their growth. I do see , however, that the competition for natural resources will eventually bring them into conflict with India, Japan, EU and the US. It will be interesting to see how they are preparing to deal with it. I think the competition in Asia in particular will be intense among three great economies of China, India and Japan, given their traditional rivalries. On the other hand, if the current gap between growth rates of India and China remains for next 50 years, China will pull very far ahead of India leaving the leadership battle to be fought between China and Japan.

Posted by Riaz Haq | Report as abusive

Both China and Russia seem be increasingly active in the regional politics that covers the western and south asian countries of Pakistan, India, Iran and Gulf countries. Russia particularly has been raising its voice recently, pledging greater role in the resolution of the key issues in the region, specially the Iranian enrichment case. Both Russia and China appear to have joined hands against the growing hegemony of their rival US in the region and they find the time and place right because US seems to be increasingly caught in the quagmire of Afghanistan, Iraq and now with growing problems with Iran and Pakistan. China risks both its secure oil supply from the Middle East and Russia its political leverage if US continues to capture country after country in the region. For Russia it can also become an opportunity to settle the old scores with the US for their loss of war in Afghanistan in 1980s. So, I guess the game has begun for both China and Russia and with them for Pakistan, Iran and the region of the Middle East.

Posted by Safdar Jafri | Report as abusive