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Signs of maturity in China?s policy

india Updated: Nov 25, 2006 03:16 IST
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More important than the Sino-Pakistan deals made during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit is the one that was not made. There has been no Sino-Pak deal commensurate in ambition and scope to the Indo-US deal, although a number of other agreements on defence, energy cooperation and trade, including an FTA, have been signed.

Pakistan has reason to be disappointed, although Hu tried to  smoothen the ruffled feathers with a commitment to continue to help Pakistan's nuclear power programme, which means little more than that China will complete the six nuclear power plants it has promised to Pakistan.

India, meanwhile, has reason to cheer, but it is a case of two cheers than three. Says China analyst VP Dutt: “Not only has China felt obliged to not announce any new nuclear deal, it has stopped short of making too obvious a tilt towards Pakistan.” However, he adds, “China may have thought it prudent not to announce a new deal and to save it for some time in the future. India also needs to watch out for what China means by playing a ‘constructive role’ in ensuring peace in the region. Also, Hu has used terms like ‘brothers’ for Pakistanis, which betrays a degree of warmth that China and India have never shared.”

This warmth results in part from their historical partnership as a bulwark against India, as also from the fact that Pakistan was among the first countries to recognise the People's Republic of China and that it has steadfastly supported China's stance over Tibet, Taiwan and human rights. 

Manoranjan Mohanty, co-chairperson, Institute of Chinese Studies, points out that China has taken pains to assure Islamabad that its growing closeness to New Delhi is not at its expense. Overall, this visit has cemented the pattern of China's relationships with India and Pakistan that has emerged over the past decade, which is to cultivate Pakistan as a partner and a lever in South Asia, while forging better relations with India.