The Chinese have mixed stance about war on terror in Southeast Asia. On one hand, they welcome the suppression of terrorist activities and havens in this region, which is economically important to China. On the other hand, China worries that the USA will take advantage of Counter Terrorism engagement with Southeast Asia to attempt to weaken that region’s relationships with the Chinese.
In this scenario China expressed its concerns over expansion of US embassy in Islamabad. But Chinese leadership must keep it mind that what role China had played in war against terror. What is happening today on our soil, china has also contributed to it. If we look at the past, Beijing even had a constructive relationship with Afghanistan’s former Taliban regime, largely motivated by the Chinese desire to shut off the flow of external support for separatists in Xinjiang. During the prosecution of the U.S. war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, which began on October 7, 2001, China was not as central as Pakistan and did not provide staging areas for U.S. military forces, as did some Central Asian states. Nonetheless, China actively encouraged Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to cooperate with Washington.
Central and South Asia have long been volatile regions of competing influences, and they are areas in which the China has major security and energy interests, with China seeing Pakistan as a balance to India on the subcontinent. In this complex geopolitical setting, China became a key player, from a U.S. perspective, by initially encouraging Pakistan to cooperate with America in the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan, by
not obstructing U.S. cooperation with Central Asian states, and by working to avoid Indo-Pakistani conflict at a critical moment in the summer of 2002. Given Pakistan’s relations
with the Taliban regime and its own restive Muslim fundamentalist population, immediately after September 11, it was not initially clear how helpful Islamabad would be, despite President Musharraf’s evident desires in this respect. In this context, had Islamabad been forced to choose between conflicting demands from Washington and Beijing, Pakistan likely would have been less forthcoming with the former. During a five-day visit to Beijing in December 2001, when Washington was pressuring Islamabad to become more active in the fight against the Taliban, General Musharraf assured China’s leaders that “the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy is its close association and relationship with China. The Chinese underscored their interest in ties to Islamabad by offering $12 million in aid and by signing multiple economic and trade agreements. By all accounts (Chinese, American, and Pakistani), Beijing encouraged Musharraf to cooperate with Washington.
China’s unequivocal support of America’s war on terrorism and its encouragement of Pakistan to help destroy the Taliban regime was a galvanizing factor in Islamabad’s calculations. Following his December 2001 visit, Musharraf stated, “I can also say with satisfaction that our Chinese counterparts showed a complete understanding and support of the rationale behind our joining the coalition to fight terrorism. China’s leaders have had a series of high-level exchanges with Pakistani officials throughout the U.S. operations in Central Asia. In June 2002, Secretary of State Colin Powell thanked China for playing a constructive role in the war in Afghanistan and in stabilizing
the volatile situation between Pakistan and India, a conflict that some in the summer of 2002 feared might go nuclear.
As a result of the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. military presence in Central Asia has greatly expanded. Now the American military activities around China constitute a severe challenge to the security interests of China. China traditionally has feared encirclement by other great powers and believes that the United States and other powers, which are now in the region to fight fundamentalist terrorism, could, at a later date, direct such forces against China as leverage in some unforeseen game of power politics. China remembers, for instance, that Washington and Beijing had once cooperated with the Muslim fundamentalists they now oppose when those Muslim “freedom fighters” struggled against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Many Chinese security analysts worry that America seeks to surround China with bases and military relationships that stretch from South Korea, through Japan and Taiwan, down to Australia, through the subcontinent, and up to Central Asia. Adding new forces along China’s northwestern flank would nearly complete the circle.
Chinese fears are justified but Chinese leadership must not forget that this American expansion is a part of the same war on terror which China supported for a decade. China always supported our dictators. She supported Zia Ul Haq by declaring Zia as envoy of public interest. We recognize that democracy is not an issue for china. Their basic issue is to feed its more than a billion population. But Pakistani dictators, who were supported by China, snatched the livelihood from our mouths. Besides Chinese support for our dictators China also changed its stance about Kashmir from time to time. If interference is not the foreign policy of China so what compelled them to talk about American presence in Pakistan?