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    Abstract: After the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan in May 2011, Pakistani politicalleaders played up their country’s relations with China,touting Beijing as an alternative partner to Washington. But China’s concerns over Pakistan’sfuture stability will likely limit the extent to which it will help Pakistan out ofits economic difficulties. While Chinahas an interest in maintaining strong security ties with Pakistan, the economic relationship is not veryextensive and the notion that Chinese ties could serve as a replacement for U.S. ties isfar-fetched. Instead of wringing hands over Chinese influence on Pakistan, the U.S.should seek cooperation from Beijing inencouraging a more stable and prosperous Pakistan—which will benefit allparties involved.

    In the wake of the U.S. raid on Osama binLaden’s compound last May and deteriorating relations between Islamabad andWashington, Pakistani leaders have sought to play up their country’s relationswith China, touting Beijing as an alternative partner to Washington. However, China’s concerns about the future stability anddevelopment of Pakistan willlimit the extent to which Chinawill bail Pakistan out ofits current economic difficulties, and the degree to which China will seek to drive a wedge between Islamabad and Washington.

    Chinese security interests in Pakistan are driven primarily by China’s desire to contain India. Beijinghas built up Pakistan’sconventional military as well as nuclear and missile capabilities over theyears to help keep India offbalance and focused on threats emanating from Pakistan. China’s concrete economic and politicalinterests in Pakistanitself are not that extensive. China’seconomic commitment to Pakistan,for instance, is not especially impressive in size and has shown clear limits. China has shown little interest in propping up Pakistan’seconomy and has not provided substantial economic aid, even during times ofneed.

    In the past, U.S.officials have worried that pushing Pakistantoo hard to crack down on terrorists could drive Islamabadmore firmly into Beijing’sembrace. But China’s lukewarm response to Pakistan’s recent overturesdemonstrates that there are limits to what Islamabad can expect from its“all-weather friend”—a term often used by Pakistani officials when referring toChina. While China has aninterest in maintaining strong security ties with Pakistan,the notion that Chinese ties could serve as a replacement for U.S. ties hasbeen overstated by Pakistani officials. The U.S. has provided considerablyhigher amounts of economic and military aid to Pakistan over the past decadeand also serves as a link to the rest of the Western nations, which otherwisewould likely be inclined to sanction Pakistan for its nuclear and terrorismactivities.

    U.S. policymakers must recognize these limits to the benefits that Pakistan will receive from China. Chinais increasingly concerned about Islamist extremism and terrorism in Pakistan, and there may be room for Washington to seek Beijing’scooperation in encouraging a more stable and prosperous Pakistan. The U.S. should make clear to China that adopting a more holistic approach toterrorism issues in Pakistanwould help mitigate threats to both Washingtonand Beijing, since Islamabad’s support for some terrorist groupsstrengthens the ideological base, logistical capabilities, and financialsupport for all Islamist terrorist groups.

    Long-Standing Security Ties

    Pakistan and Chinahave long-standing strategic ties, dating back five decades. China maintains a robust defense relationshipwith Pakistan and views astrong partnership with Pakistanas a useful way to contain Indian power in the region and divert Indianmilitary force and strategic attention away from China. The China–Pakistanpartnership serves both Chinese and Pakistani interests by presenting India with apotential two-front theater in the event of war with either country. Chineseofficials also view a certain degree of India–Pakistan tension as advancingtheir own strategic interests, as such friction bogs Indiadown in South Asia and interferes with New Delhi’sability to assert its global ambitions and compete with China at theinternational level.

    China is Pakistan’slargest defense supplier. The Chinese JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft iscurrently under serial production at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, and aninitial batch of 250 to 300 planes is scheduled. Chinaalso plans to provide Pakistanwith J-10 medium-role combat aircraft, with an initial delivery of 30 to 35planes.[1] Other recent sales of conventional weapons include F-22P frigateswith helicopters, K-8 jet trainers, T-85 tanks, F-7 aircraft, small arms, andammunition. China alsohelped Pakistanbuild its Heavy Mechanical Complex, Aeronautical Complex, and several defenseproduction units. While the U.S.has sanctioned Pakistan inthe past—in 1965 and again in 1990—Chinahas consistently supported Pakistan’smilitary modernization.

    There are signs that Pakistan–China defensecooperation received a boost following the United States’ May 2 raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.Two weeks after the raid, Pakistan’sprime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, traveled to Beijingin an attempt to showcase the China–Pakistan relationship as the pillar of Pakistan’sforeign policy. The U.S.decision to pursue the bin Laden raid unilaterally without prior notificationof Pakistani officials incensed the Pakistani military leadership.

    To demonstrate its displeasure over theoperation, Pakistan kickedout 90 U.S.military trainers from the country and turned its attention to its“all-weather” friend. In response to Pakistan’s overtures, China called on theU.S. to respect the “independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity” ofPakistan and announced it would expedite the delivery of 50 JF-17 aircraftequipped with upgraded avionics to Pakistan.[2] However, when Pakistan’sdefense minister claimed that Pakistan had invited China to start building anaval base at Gwadar Port, Chinese officials publicly dismissed the notion.Despite Pakistani assurances that they did not provide Chinese officials withaccess to wreckage from the stealth helicopter used by U.S. Special Forces inthe bin Laden raid, U.S.intelligence officials reportedly believe the Pakistanis did allow Chineseengineers to inspect the helicopter parts before they were returned to the U.S.[3]

    Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Cooperation.It is widely acknowledged that Chinatransferred equipment and technology and provided scientific expertise to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missileprograms throughout the 1980s and 1990s, enhancing Pakistan’s strength in the SouthAsian strategic balance. The most significant development in Chinese–Pakistanimilitary cooperation occurred in 1992, when Chinasupplied Pakistanwith 34 short-range ballistic M-11 missiles. Beijingalso built a turn-key ballistic missile manufacturing facility near Rawalpindi, and helped Pakistan develop the 750-km-rangesolid-fueled Shaheen-1 ballistic missile.

    In a recently released letter from 2003,Abdul Qadeer (A. Q.) Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist who was instrumentalin developing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and who confessed in 2004 torunning a nuclear black market from Pakistan, suggests that China had suppliedPakistan with significant quantities of low-enriched uranium, allowing Pakistanto accelerate the production of weapons-grade uranium in the early 1980s.[4]There are also indications that China provided Pakistan with nuclear warheaddesigns from China’s 1966 nuclear test.[5] In 1994, information surfaced thatChina’s Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation had transferred 5,000 ring magnetsto a Pakistani nuclear weapons lab for use in gas centrifuges to enrichuranium.[6] The harsh international reaction to the transfer prompted China topledge in 1996 that it would not allow any further cooperation withunsafeguarded nuclear facilities.[7]

    China helped Pakistan buildtwo civilian nuclear reactors at the Chasma site in the Punjabprovince under agreements made before it joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group(NSG) in 2004. More recently, Chinahas been planning to build two additional new nuclear reactors for Pakistan (Chasma III and Chasma IV), but the U.S. has indicated that Beijing must first seek an exemption from theNSG for any future nuclear technology transfers. When China joinedthe NSG, it subjected itself to rules that forbid the sale and export ofnuclear technology to countries that have not signed the NuclearNonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Beijing hasargued that the new proposed sale should be viewed as part of the earlieragreement struck with Pakistanbefore Beijingjoined the NSG and thus be “grandfathered” into international acceptance.

    An Obama Administration decision to allowthe China–Pakistan nuclear deal to advance unhindered would contradict earlierstatements by U.S. officialsthat the construction of the two new nuclear plants would be inconsistent with China’s NSGcommitments. It could also jeopardize nuclear safety and security on thesubcontinent, given that Pakistan’sincreased access to civilian nuclear technology poses a potential proliferationthreat.

    Though Pakistanconsiders China a morereliable defense partner than the U.S.,Islamabad should also recognize that China’s support has its limits, especiallyduring times of conflict and tension between New Delhiand Islamabad.When Pakistan sought Chinese assistance during its 1965 war with India, Beijingencouraged Islamabad to withdraw its forces from Indian territory.[8] Duringthe 1999 Indo–Pakistani border war in Kargil, Beijing privately supported U.S.calls for Pakistan to withdraw its forces from the heights of Kargil on theIndian side of the Line of Control to defuse the crisis, and apparentlycommunicated this stance to Pakistani leaders. The Chinese position during theKargil episode helped spur a thaw in Indian–Chinese relations. During the2001–2002 Indo–Pakistani military crisis, Chinastayed neutral and counseled restraint on both sides, declaring that China was a“neighbor and friend of both countries.”[9]

    Rising Concerns about Terrorism

    One source of tension between Beijing and Islamabadthat has surfaced over the last few years is Chinese concern over some ChineseUighur separatists receiving sanctuary and terrorist training on Pakistaniterritory. The Chinese province of Xinjiang is home toeight million Muslim Uighurs, many of whom resent the growing presence andeconomic grip of the Han Chinese on the region. Some Uighurs have agitated foran independent “East Turkestan.” To mollifyChina’s concerns, Pakistan has begun to clamp down on Uighur settlements and onreligious schools purportedly used as training grounds for militants.[10] Mediareports indicate that Pakistan may have extradited as many as nine Uighurs toChina in April 2009 after accusing them of involvement in terroristactivities.[11] While it is unclear which percentage of Uighur separatists areaffiliated with al-Qaeda, terrorism expert Walid Phares testified before theU.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission in 2009 that jihadists makeup about 5 percent to 10 percent of the Uighur movement.[12] He has also notedthe presence of a “jihadi web” in Pakistan that includes Uighur extremists.[13]

    In July 2009, ethnic violence broke out in Urumqi, the capital ofXinjiang province, in which at least 197 people were killed and 1,700injured—mostly Han Chinese. The rioting began when roughly 1,000 Uighurprotesters were confronted by riot police. The Chinese government blamed theviolence primarily on Uighur exiles, but Pakistani radical influence was alsocited as contributing to the violence.[14]

    More recent attacks in Xinjiang in lateJuly 2011 that killed 20 people prompted Chinese criticisms of Pakistan for failing to crack down on the trainingof Uighur separatists in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.[15] TheChinese rebuke mirrored U.S.calls for the Pakistani government to do more to rein in Afghan insurgents whoalso find sanctuary in Pakistan.Local Chinese authorities in Xinjiang charged that the person who conducted theJuly attacks in Kashgar had received training in Pakistan. The accusations wererepeated in the China Daily newspaper. Pakistani political leader MushahidHussain acknowledged in an op-ed that another attack similar to the one inKashgar over the summer would have serious implications for China–Pakistanties.[16]

    Chinese officials are increasinglyconnecting the level of terrorist activity in Pakistanto instability in western China.One Chinese academic has noted in his writings that China has developed a moreneutral position on the Indo–Pakistani dispute over Kashmir over the pastdecade in part because China believes that the dispute could have implicationsfor ethnic-religious unrest in China, especially in Tibet or Xinjiang.[17] Inthis context, the ascendance of Taliban forces in either Pakistan orAfghanistan is clearly not in China’s interest. But rather than encouraging Islamabad to adopt acomprehensive approach toward countering terrorism, Chinese leaders have usedtheir relationships with Pakistani military officials, and with the Islamistpolitical parties, to persuade them to discourage attacks on Chinese interests.Before 9/11, for example, the Chinese reached agreements with the Taliban toprevent Uighur separatists from using Afghanistan as a training groundfor militant activities.[18]

    Chinese vice premier in charge of publicsecurity, Meng Jianchu, visited Pakistan in late September 2011, in whatoutside observers described as a mission aimed at strengthening cooperationwith Islamabad in dealing with the challenge of militancy in Xinjiang.[19] But,according to American China expert Michael Swaine, Beijing is balancing itsinterest in suppressing the Uighur threat with the possibility that suchsuppression might further fuel Uighur separatism and provoke further attacksagainst Chinese interests.[20] One of the main reasons that China has refrainedfrom providing material support to the NATO mission in Afghanistan is to avoidbeing portrayed as part of an alliance against Islam.[21] The Chinese believethat the United States’ low favorability ratings in Muslim countries is proofthat U.S. interference in the internal affairs of these countries comes withserious blowback.[22]

    Tension has also surfaced between Islamabad and Beijing inrecent years over attacks by Islamist extremists on Chinese workers, whichnumber about 10,000 in Pakistan.This tension came to a head in summer 2007 when Islamist militants kidnappedseveral Chinese citizens whom they accused of running a brothel in Islamabad. China wasincensed by this incident, and its complaints to Pakistani authorities likelycontributed to Pakistan’s decision to finally launch a military operation atthe Red Mosque in Islamabad, where the militants had holed up for seven months.Around the same time, three Chinese officials were killed in Peshawar. Several days later, a suicidebomber attacked a group of Chinese engineers in Baluchistan.Senior Chinese leaders, such as President Hu Jintao, have called on Pakistanileaders to increase protection of Chinese workers in the country and threatenedto pull funding from projects where Chinese workers have come under threat.[23]

    Another sign that China was feelingincreasingly compelled to pressure Pakistan to adopt stricter counterterrorismpolicies was when, in December 2008, Beijing dropped its resistance to banningthe Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD—a front organization for the Pakistan-basedLashkar-e-Tayyiba, responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks) inthe United Nations Security Council. Before then, China had vetoed Security Councilresolutions seeking to ban the JuD.

    The Economic Relationship: SurprisinglyLimited

    Pakistan’s portrayal of its relationship with China features exaggeration of theeconomic dimension of the relationship. Pakistani media routinely report hugenumbers for investment and financing with the People’s Republic of China (PRC),numbers that cannot be verified by any independent source, including by theChinese government or the Chinese companies supposedly involved. WhilePakistani officials talk of a total of $25 billion in Chinese investment in Pakistanso far, the PRC’s official figure of direct investment through 2010 is $1.83billion.[24]

    The Heritage Foundation’s China GlobalTracker documents investments as well as engineering and construction contractsof $100 million or more since the beginning of 2005, as reported by thecompanies. The China Tracker shows only $1.2 billion in such investment andcontracts combined through 2010.[25] These are dominated by telecommunications,with China Mobile acquiring Paktel and investing in improvements in Pakistan’stelecommunications system, such as paying the Chinese engineering company GreatWall to launch a satellite.

    The Heritage Foundation figure precludestransactions initiated before 2005 and is therefore too low for a country like Pakistan,where Chinese involvement is long-standing. But it also does not include roadand port projects that have not begun and are unlikely to look anything likethe gigantic endeavors advertised by Pakistan. While Pakistan touts the expansion ofGwadar and other ports as multibillion dollar projects, the leading enterpriseChina Communications Construction notes only a modest project to expandfacilities in Karachi.[26]

    In sum, Chinese investment activity in Pakistan isquite modest. It is a negligible fraction of total Chinese outward investmentof more than $250 billion since 2005 and dwarfed by Chinese activity in Indonesia,for example.[27] This should not be a surprise. Chinese outward investment ismotivated more by domestic economic needs than by foreign policy goals. Whatthe PRC deems to be strategic sectors—iron, copper, oil, coal, and gas—arematerials needed to keep domestic industry humming and hundreds of millions ofpeople employed. Farmland is similar, though it has proven more difficult toacquire. Pakistanhas comparatively little in the way of any of these resources.

    Chinese private investors, which are farsmaller than their state-controlled counterparts, seek either an asset thatwill considerably strengthen their position in the home market, or a new marketthey can sell to because they are hampered at home. Textiles might beattractive now that Chinese costs are rising, but most of the textileinvestment moving out of the PRC to this point is foreign-funded. Pakistanagain has fairly little to offer commercially and the political connection hasproven inadequate to spur exchange.

    While Chinais not spending much money itself in Pakistan, it might be financingPakistani spending. Here the evidence is not clear because the principalvehicle for Chinese financing, the China Development Bank (CDB), does notprovide information of the same quality or quantity as many Chinese enterprisesinvesting overseas. The CDB’s foreign loan portfolio has been stated as morethan $140 billion, but the many claims made around the world about its loansadd up to far more than that.[28] One important reason for the gap is thatcountries boast about lines of credit, not actual loans made.

    In this somewhat unclear environment, itdoes not appear that realized Chinese lending to Pakistan is large or even moderate.Scattered claims of large loans are again unverified by independent sources andtied to projects or shipments that have not yet been made. The PRC typicallylends large amounts in barter—such as loans for oil—or to fund sizableengineering projects, and neither is frequent among Chinese–Pakistani economictransactions.[29]

    Indirect evidence comes from thePakistan–China Investment Company (PCIC). The PCIC is an alliance between theChina Development Bank and the Pakistani government.[30] Elsewhere, the ChinaDevelopment Bank uses such entities extensively. The China–Africa DevelopmentFund, for instance, was set up about the same time as PCIC but is 25 timeslarger in terms of capital, and far more active.[31] According to the publicrecord, PCIC does not seem to be doing much of anything.

    Chinese humanitarian aid to Pakistan also has been modest, especially whencompared to that provided by the U.S. After massive flooding in Pakistan in the summer of 2010, for instance,the U.S.provided nearly $700 million in flood relief and in-kind assistance. Chinaeventually committed to providing $250 million, after a meager initialcontribution of $18 million.[32]

    While U.S.humanitarian aid outstripped that from China,Beijing hasprovided much-needed reconstruction aid for the worst-hit flood areas. U.S.media reports claimed in September 2010 that 7,000 to 10,000 People’sLiberation Army (PLA) troops were deployed to Gilgit–Baltistan in northernPakistan to help rebuild areas devastated by the 2010 floods.[33] Indiananalysts also noted the presence of PLA logistics and engineering corps in theregion to provide flood relief and to build infrastructure projects, such asroads, railways, and dams. In early October, Indian army chief General V. K.Singh noted that about 3,000 to 4,000 Chinese troops were stationed in northernPakistan focusing on construction projects.[34]

    The final, and perhaps most important,indication of the limits of the China–Pakistan financial relationship is thePRC’s not-so-gentle shunting of Pakistani aid requests to the InternationalMonetary Fund (IMF). The IMF denied large-scale aid requests made by Pakistanimmediately after the September 2008 financial shock, forcing Islamabad toaccept a multi-billion-dollar IMF program with stringent economicconditions.[35] In the end, China did agree to provide around $500 million inconcessionary lending to Pakistan, but its refusal to provide large-scale loansindicates clear limits on China’s willingness to take primary responsibilityfor Pakistan’s financial woes.

    Gwadar Port Project:More Symbolism than Substance?

    Chinese lending for the Gwadar Portproject in Pakistan’s Baluchistanprovince on the Arabian Sea has received agreat deal of media attention. China has reportedly financed around 80 percentof the $250 million estimated cost for completion of the first phase of theproject, and has agreed to fund most of the second phase, which could costnearly $500 million and feature the construction of several additional berthsand terminals.

    China’s financing of the port has drawnattention since access to the port would allow China to secure oil and gassupplies from the Persian Gulf and potentially project power in the IndianOcean.[36] The port complex is expected to provide industrial facilities formore than 20 countries and eventually have the capability to receive oiltankers with a capacity of 200,000 tons. Pakistan signed an agreement withthe Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) in 2007 to run the port for the next 25years. However, progress on construction of associated road, rail, and pipelineinfrastructure needed to create the core export-processing zone has lagged dueto security risks and continued attacks on sites and workers.[37]

    India, the U.S., andother countries are concerned that China may eventually seek access tothe port for its warships. Indeed, Pakistan’sdefense minister recently claimed that Pakistanhad invited Chinato start building a naval base at Gwadar; Chinese officials publicly dismissedthe notion. It is unclear whether Islamabad madethe statement without coordinating with Beijingor whether the episode was carefully choreographed to send a signal to theinternational community (i,e., the U.S.and India)about the potential global impact of a cozier Sino–Pakistani alliance.

    Trade also Lagging

    Trade is not exaggerated by Pakistanor rendered unclear by Chinese secrecy. As with investment and (apparently)finance, though, it is relatively insubstantial. On Chinese figures, bilateraltrade volume was below $9 billion in 2010 and grew slightly less quickly thanthe PRC’s overall trade. The Philippinesare similar to Pakistan inGDP and not as close politically with China. The Philippinesmining sector is underdeveloped. Yet China’sbilateral trade with the Philippinesin 2010 was still three times larger than its trade with Pakistan, and grew faster.


    Not only is the trade relationship small,it is imbalanced. The PRC’s 2010 surplus was $5.2 billion, tiny by Chinesestandards, but huge in comparison to bilateral trade volume. If Beijing wanted to assist Islamabadfor political reasons, it could artificially inflate imports from Pakistan, atleast on a temporary basis. Cosmetic efforts along these lines are routinelymade with the PRC’s major economic partners,[38] but Pakistan clearly does not qualify.


    In contrast to lagging trade with Pakistan, China’strade relationship with Indiais increasing at a relatively fast pace. Sino–Indian trade has increased fromaround $5 billion in 2002 to more than $60 billion in 2010, and the two sideshave pledged to boost trade over the next five years to $100 billion annually.While Sino–Indian border tensions persist, their rapidly expanding traderelationship is a positive indicator and could encourage mutual interest inregional stability, and greater attention on the part of Beijingto balancing ties between Pakistanand India.

    U.S.Policy—Dos and Don’ts

    Pakistan’s effort to spotlight its growing ties to China is partly an attempt to build confidencedomestically in the wake of the Osama bin Laden raid, which embarrassed thePakistani military and fueled doubts about the U.S. as a reliable partner. Islamabad is also signaling Washingtonthat it has other foreign policy options to pursue if the U.S. pushes thePakistani government too far on counterterrorism issues. Some in the U.S. accept this line of thinking and worryabout pushing Pakistanfurther into China’sembrace, viewing China as atool of leverage that Pakistanholds over the U.S.

    But U.S.policymakers must recognize that there are limits to what Pakistan can expect from its relationship with China.Pakistan has traditionallysought close ties with both Chinaand the U.S. and it wouldhave to seriously consider the costs of putting all its eggs in the China basket. China’s lack of interest in bailing Pakistan out economically and the substantialinfluence the U.S. wieldswithin international lending organizations, such as the IMF and World Bank, arefactors that Islamabadwould have to take into account. Moreover, Chinais increasingly concerned about the spillover of extremism and terrorism in Pakistan, and there may be room for Washington to seek cooperation with Beijingin encouraging a more stable and prosperous Pakistan.

    To achieve its policy objectives withregard to Pakistan, the U.S.should:

    Pursue U.S.counterterrorism policies directed at Pakistan without worrying about thepolicies’ impact on Pakistani–Chinese relations. Some in the U.S. argue for softer counterterrorism policiestoward Pakistan because theyfear a tough approach would push Islamabadfurther into Beijing’sembrace. This is a straw-man argument, however, as Chinadoes not want full responsibility for Pakistanand its economic challenges and prefers that Washingtonremain engaged with Islamabad.U.S. policymakers shouldrecognize that Pakistan usesthe China card to scare U.S. officials into thinking they have no choiceother than to appease Pakistanwhen it comes to terrorism and provision of military aid.


    Enhance dialogue with China on Pakistan’s future prospects forstability, including ways to dampen extremist trends in Pakistani society andto reduce terrorist recruitment. There are indications that China is worriedabout the prospect of further destabilization in Pakistan and has engaged incontingency planning for different possible scenarios in Pakistan, includingspreading Islamist militancy and nuclear weapons falling into the wronghands.[39] The U.S. should convince China to adopt a more holistic approach toterrorism issues in Pakistan, explaining that Pakistan’s support for someterrorist groups strengthens the ideological base, logistical capabilities, andfinancial support for all Islamist terrorist groups. As part of this effort, Washington should share any available intelligence with Beijing on the possiblepresence of Chinese citizens at Pakistan-based terrorist training camps.

    Initiate discussions with Beijingabout U.S. and Chineseinvestment and trade with Pakistanthat would contribute to its stability. Fears of China“owning” Pakistanare unfounded, as the economic relationship is simply not that substantial.Indeed, the U.S.should welcome greater Chinese–Pakistani economic interaction, particularlyadditional Chinese investment, construction, lending, and trade, sincebolstering the Pakistani economy will help create conditions for greaterstability and prosperity in the country. While joint Sino–American assistanceprojects are impractical because the two countries operate so differentlycommercially, the comparative advantage of U.S. direct investment in areassuch as agriculture, finance, and education could complement the Chineseinvestments in telecommunications and port construction. Shared informationcould improve the quality of both sides’ work.

    Include Chinain some multilateral approaches to Pakistan’seconomic challenges and coordinate with China on bilateral assistance. China should be invited to participate fully asthe IMF continues to work with Pakistan’sprivate creditors, for instance. At the moment, due to the unusual nature ofits financial assistance, Chinalargely deals separately with Pakistan,an arrangement that does not benefit private creditors or American interestsand does not seem to have appealed much to China, either. A more unifiedapproach would increase outside leverage and coherence in pushing Pakistanto make needed reform.

    Discourage China’ssale of new nuclear reactors to Pakistan,citing concerns over proliferation. The U.S.must hold firm to its opposition to the sale of new nuclear reactors to Pakistanoutside the international nonproliferation regime. Pakistan is expanding and improvingits nuclear arsenal more rapidly than any country in the world, and isestimated to have produced sufficient fissile material to manufacture anadditional 100 nuclear weapons to supplement the approximately 100 weaponsalready in its possession. At its current rate of production, Islamabad is poised to become one of the topfour largest nuclear powers in the world. Given concerns over extremistsgaining access to Pakistan’s nuclear technology and past incidents of nuclearproliferation from Pakistan, namely the A. Q. Khan nuclear black market thatfacilitated the Libyan, Iranian, and North Korean nuclear weapons programs,China should demonstrate that it is a responsible international actor when itcomes to Pakistan and nuclear issues. Moving forward with the sale of two newnuclear reactors outside the international regime to a country at high risk forfurther proliferation would call China’s own nonproliferationcredentials into question. Indeed China’sconcerns over prospects for stability in Pakistanshould prompt China to takegreater interest in measures to enhance the security of Pakistan’snuclear weapons arsenal.


    China’s concerns about the future development of Pakistan will likely limit the extent to whichit will help Pakistanout of its economic difficulties. While Chinahas an interest in maintaining strong security ties with Pakistan, the notion that Chinese ties couldserve as a replacement for U.S.ties is far-fetched. Instead of wringing its hands over Chinese influence with Pakistan, the U.S.should seek Beijing’s cooperation in encouraginga more stable and prosperous Pakistan.
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