Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
Make No Mistake

Make No Mistake

Author: G Parthasarathy
Publications: The Times of India, Goa
Date: January 5, 2009

Introduction: China is committed to backing Pakistan in its face-off with India

It is now well established that for over a quarter of a century, China went on a spree of supplying Pakistan with nuclear weapons designs and technology. What is, however, not understood clearly is China's culpability in acting as a virtual accessory of the Lashkare-Taiba (LeT), renamed as Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which perpetrated the Mumbai carnage. The Bush administration moved the United Nations in 2006 to have the JuD declared an international terrorist organisation (ITO), under Security Council Resolution 1267. China stepped in on three occasions to help Pakistan block moves for UN action against the LeT. Ironically, even as China continued backing the LeT, the armies of India and China were carrying out joint counterterrorism exercises codenamed "Hand in Hand" in Belgaum!

Fearing continued Chinese obduracy in acting against the LeT after the Mumbai incident, the Bush administration warned President Zardari against seeking Chinese support, when the UN Security Council moved to declare the LeT an ITO in December 2008. While the Chinese leadership formally conveyed condolences on the loss of lives in Mumbai, the Chinese government moved quickly to divert attention from terrorism perpetrated by an organisation it had supported in the Security Council, by calling on India and Pakistan "to strengthen dialogue and bilateral cooperation".

At the same time, government controlled media organisations in Mainland China and Hong Kong launched an anti-Indian barrage claiming: "The Indian government's eagerness to declare that the attacks were carried out by foreign forces was an attempt to cover up internal contradictions". The official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, the 'People's Daily', proclaimed on December 2 last year that the attack was "a major blow to India's big power ambitions".

Chinese hostility to Indian concerns was voiced even more strongly by 'scholars' from two government institutions - the China Institute of Strategic Studies (CISS) affiliated to the foreign office and the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) affiliated to the state council. CISS scholars claimed that India was blaming Pakistan to "enhance its control over the disputed Kashmir". A CISS scholar even stated: "China can support Pakistan in the event of a war." The scholar asserted that in such circumstances China may have the option of resorting to a "strategic military action in southern Tibet (Arunachal Pradesh) to thoroughly liberate the people there". The CICIR, in turn, claimed that the terrorists who carried out the attacks in Mumbai came from within India.

The Chinese official position has consistently been to echo the Pakistani rhetoric that India must share evidence with Pakistan, and of the need to resume dialogue and avoid tensions. This position came through clearly when vice-foreign minister He Yafei visited Pakistan and met not only President Zardari and other government leaders, but also the army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani.

More importantly, the terrorist outrage was followed by a visit to China by Pakistan's senior most military official, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee, General Tariq Majid, who was received like a high state dignitary by Chinese vice-president Xi Jinping, defence minister General Liang Guanglie and foreign minister Yiang Jiechi. China's vicepresident assured Pakistan of Chinese support in the UN by agreeing that their countries would support each other in international forums. Yiang Jiechi reportedly appreciated the measures taken by Pakistan to deal with the consequences of the Mumbai attack while urging other countries (India) to push for peace.

In substantive terms, General Majid's visit resulted in the signing of a new agreement on military cooperation between Pakistan and China. His visits to military establishments in China suggested that China would expedite delivery of four F-22 frigates to the Pakistan navy. The delivery of 250 JF 17 fighters also figured, with General Majid visiting the fighter production facilities in Chengdu. It is also known that China has agreed to supply around 30 J-10 fighters, which are based on the F-16 design, to Pakistan. These developments coincide with China's decision to dispatch a flotilla comprising two warships and a supply ship to patrol the Gulf of Aden, thereby marking the presence of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean for the first time after the 15th century expedition by Admiral Zheng He. The flotilla will have assured berthing facilities when needed, in the strategically located Gwadar port, built in Pakistan with Chinese assistance.

The Chinese will project their selfproclaimed role of seeking to "defuse tensions" following the Mumbai terrorist attacks, and actions against international piracy, to the incoming Obama administration as manifestations of "responsible behaviour" by an emerging superpower. Speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington on December 30, 2008, China's state councillor Dai Bingguo ecstatically proclaimed: "In the short span of 30 years, with the joint efforts of several generations of Chinese leaders, seven US presidents and people in both countries, the ship of China-US relations has forged ahead, come rain or shine.

It has brought tremendous benefits to our two peoples and contributed greatly to world peace and development." China's effort will be to renew the strategic dimensions in Sino-American relations that developed during the Nixon and Clinton administrations, after the Obama administration assumes office. How the new dispensation in Washington reacts to such Chinese overtures remains to be seen.

- The writer is a former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements