The Big Picture – China Pakistan deal: Should India be concerned?
The recent visit of the Chinese President to Pakistan has evoked mixed responses from India.
This visit raised a lot of concern and curiosity because of the 51 agreements signed and huge
funding announcement by China to Pakistan. The biggest deal concerns a 3000 Km long China
Pakistan corridor for which China is pouring $46 billion. This is supposed to be the biggest
overseas investment announced by China yet. This corridor will incidentally run through
Pakistan occupied Kashmir and will give access to China into the Indian Ocean too. The
implications of this corridor and its strategic importance to China is being seen in India as a
matter of concern.
The 3,000-km corridor linking China’s far-western region to Pakistan’s south-western Gwadar
port on the Arabian Sea through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is massive project of road,
rail, energy schemes, pipelines and investment parks. The corridor is also expected to serve as a
terminal for China to pump oil procurement from Persian Gulf. It is also being seen as a project
to strengthen China’s connectivity with neighbouring countries and an initiative set to aid
strategic framework for pragmatic cooperation between the nations. However, China has
maintained that it merely wants to develop infrastructure in the area without undermining
India’s position on the Kashmir dispute.
India has expressed its reservations to China over the project as it is laid through the PoK. But,
China defended the project by saying it will help in the regional development. Sceptics in both
Pak and China, however, point to the rising tide of extremism in Pakistan which makes its
construction extremely difficult. Pakistan being China’s oldest and closest ally in South Asia, the
partnership between these two is often interpreted as a caution to India.
Despite the special relationship between China and Pakistan, some observers say that India has
acquired fresh leverage in its ties with Beijing, which is seeking India’s cooperation to fulfill its
aspirations to develop the critically important Silk Road blueprint. Some Chinese academics say
that China is wary that the United States in the Western Pacific, India in the Indian Ocean, and
Russia in Central Asia could be possible impediments to the Silk Route initiative.
Pakistan has also signed a deal to buy eight Chinese submarines for $6 billion dollars. This
would double Pakistan’s submarine fleet and also help counter India’s increasing strategic
footprints in the Indian Ocean Region that has contributed to discomfiture of Beijing amid its
own ambitions in the area.
These deals would help China offset its setback in Sri Lanka, where its massive Colombo Port
project has been suspended. China`s aid to Pakistan will be of strategic as well as commercial
importance. However, it appears that China has played down India’s concerns on the 3,000-km
corridor that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), saying that it is a commercial