China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao ended a three-day visit to
Pakistan Sunday after inking a string of deals with an ally one
Beijing diplomat referred to as 'our Israel.'
Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao wrapped up a three-day visit to
Pakistan on Sunday with a warmly received speech to Parliament that
pledged closer strategic ties and lauded Pakistan's fight against
militancy, underscoring Beijing's commitment to a geostrategic ally
a Chinese diplomat recently dubbed "our Israel."
The Chinese delegation had already inked trade agreements between
the private and public sectors of both countries worth some $30
billion. The trade deals are expected to bring up to $15 billion of
desperately needed foreign investment over the next five years to
this nation of 180 million struggling to cope with militancy and
poverty. Last year, direct foreign investment to Pakistan stood at a
5-year-low of $2 billion.
Beyond aid and investment, however, Mr. Wen's strong words of
support for its "all-weather" ally highlight a different approach to
Pakistan to that taken by the West, which many Pakistanis believe
has slighted Pakistan in favor of emerging economic powerhouse
"The timing of the trip is very important. Pakistan is facing
difficulties in the region with the Obama review [on Afghanistan]
excoriating Pakistan, and Western leaders trooping off to India
without visiting Pakistan," says Mushahid Hussain, an opposition
senator and chairman of the Pakistan China Institute think tank.
"This trip instills confidence in the Pakistani leadership and the
Pakistani nation. Even through these hard times, the world's second-
largest economy is standing with us."
Visits to the region
Indeed, President Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and
Prime Minister David Cameron of Great Britain all visited India in
recent months without going to Pakistan.
Wen's trip to Pakistan follows a visit to India where China and
India pledged to double their trade to $100 billion. That trip did
not offer any breakthroughs on border disputes and other
geopolitical differences, however.
Decades of unresolved border disputes after a brief 1962 border
war have soured relations between India and China.
Solid Pakistan-China ties
Contrast that with Pakistan, where China has maintained solid
ties for six decades. In 1951, Pakistan was among the first
countries to recognize the People's Republic of China founded two
years earlier by the Communist party, which still governs China.
Today, China benefits from access to Pakistan's natural
resources, which prompted several bilateral agreements from Wen's
trip, including a $400 million loan for post-flood reconstruction,
$10 million donation to the flood victims, the widening of the
Karokoram highway to facilitate trade, and a pledge to assist
Pakistan's energy sector. …