Academic journal article Journal of Political Studies

China’s Role and the Potential of Pak-China Cooperation in Regional Organizations

Academic journal article Journal of Political Studies

China’s Role and the Potential of Pak-China Cooperation in Regional Organizations

Article excerpt

Introduction

The era of globalization and growing economy facilitated a rising China for more proactive role to play in the world politics. China has formulated a more comprehensive and multifaceted foreign policy in recent decades to cope with the changing dynamics of international relations. The wave of regional integration, inter and intra-regional cooperation and need for a friendly neighborhood has pushed Beijing for dynamic engagement with regional organizations and multilateral forums. So, China is enthusiastic to join SAAARC as a full-fledged member and increase its cooperation with South Asian states where Pakistan's role vis-a-vis China is crucial.

Pakistan has endorsed the idea of Chinese membership in SAARC and has been striving hard to welcome it for further enhancement of bilateral relationship.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization is another important platform of regional cooperation. It is a fast growing regional organization with a leading Chinese role, being a founding member. China has always supported Pakistan's case within the SCO when it became an observer in 2005 and a member in 2015. In case of OIC, it is equally important both for Pakistan and China, where the former is its founding member and the latter is seeking for observer status, at least. Islamabad has always played its part with rigorous participation and raising voice for Muslims' cause, within the OIC. Beijing has also keen interest to be a part of OIC with full membership owing to its Muslim minority and growing relationship of interdependence with Muslim countries.

China and Pakistan share same views in Istanbul Peace Process regarding the Afghanistan conflict. As Afghanistan shares a common border with Pakistan and China, it is really pushing the two countries hard for an active role in this regard. Pakistan and China have hosted the Heart of Asia Conferences of the Istanbul Peace Process in their respective capitals for a regional 'Afghan-led and Afghan-own' solution.

An attempt has been made here to analyze China's role and its potential cooperation with Pakistan within SAARC, SCO, OIC and few other multilateral forums.

China and Pakistan in SAARC

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an inter-governmental regional organization which was founded in 1985 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It has eight member states, including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan. SAARC has an observer status in the UN and working relationship with the European Union as well. SAARC was established to promote regional integration, economic prosperity and people to people contact in the region of South Asia. It has nine observers, including the United States, European Union, China, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Iran, Myanmar and Mauritius. It is interesting to note that SAARC has more observers than its members. China is special in this case as it has fastest growing and second largest economy in the world. China is enthusiastic to join the SAARC.

How China looks into South Asia? Five factors have shaped Chinese policy towards South Asia. First is the fact that South Asia is located in the center to connect the energy-rich Middle East with Southeast Asia where China has large stakes. Most of the SAARC countries have direct land borders with China which can give alternate option to have access to international sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. It would give China a strategic importance of having a safe trade. Second is, South Asia is rich in natural resources, such as, 'iron ore, coal and hydrocarbon derivatives' where some have yet to be explored. The region has growing economies and a huge population in millions which provides China enormous opportunity for trade and a market for its goods. Third factor is the growing Chinese imports and exports volume, especially in energy sector and its growing dependence on Indian Ocean. There are also serious security threats in the Indian Ocean region, ranging from terrorism, drugs and material trafficking to the weapons of mass destruction. …

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