China-Pakistan Relations: A Historical Analysis

By Mahesar, Pervaiz Ali | International Journal of China Studies, December 2017 | Go to article overview

China-Pakistan Relations: A Historical Analysis


Mahesar, Pervaiz Ali, International Journal of China Studies


Ghulam Ali, China-Pakistan Relations: A Historical Analysis. Oxford University Press, 2017, 278 pages. ISBN 978-0199402496.

The shifting sands of power being transformed from the West to the East appears to be in favour of China. The changing regional dynamics coupled with China's economic rise; China being the "Factory of the World" and growing global inter-connectivity through the Maritime Silk Route and Belt and Road Initiative have given rise to a growing trend towards China studies among the China watchers. There is a profound influence of China around its periphery. Therefore, Pakistan is no exception. There is a growing scholarship on China and China-Pakistan relations from the Chinese, American or Indian perspective, yet it lacks a Pakistani scholarship over China and Pakistan-China relations. Thus, the current study on Pakistan-China relations can contribute to an existing body of literature.

The underlined study dilates upon the formative phase that begins from 1950-60; informs about how these relations were strengthened; looks into China's modernization agenda and relations with Pakistan; indicates how China has kept balance and stability through its policy. He further identifies China's renewed interests in Pakistan in the wake of post-9/11 horrendous terrorist attacks. It also sheds light on the recent China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and interestingly identifies various factors in Pakistan-China durable relations.

This book examines the relations between Pakistan and China with a historical perspective. Ghulam Ali, the author, begins his study with an argument that divergence in political, economic, social cultural and ideology could not deter China-Pakistan relations to strengthen further since the early 1960s. Ghulam Ali, while quoting John W Garver, stated: "There is a consensus among analysts who have studied Sino-Pakistan relations that this partnership has consistently been of a truly special character" (p. 1).

Similar views were also given by William Brands and Rajshree Jetly. For example, Jetly opined that: "Sino-Pakistan relations stand out as one of the few enduring friendship that have withstood the pressures of time and shifting geostrategic conditions" (p. 2). The author's main argument is that previous studies on China-Pakistan relations have shown that the Indian factor was the dominant element that paved the way towards Pakistan-China ties. The author also shows the merits and demerits of this argument (p. 3).

His study adopts the qualitative approach. He has selected samples for his study from Pakistan, India and China. His chosen sampling size is: ten experts from Pakistan, five Indian experts and eleven Chinese experts. The author has interviewed scholars in 2011, 2014, 2015. More importantly, this study contributes to an existing scholarship on China-Pakistan relations by exploring the genesis of the alliance that is deeply intertwined by the domestic, regional and international factors.

This book consists of seven chapters. The first part reflects on the formative phase in Pakistan and China relations (p. 8). This part of the study concludes that sustained relations were partly due to lack of historical enmity and conflict of interests. The second part dilates upon strengthening and deepening of relations (1963-77) (p. 53). This study helps the readers to understand how China-Pakistan relations were strengthened. The author finds that the China-Pakistan entente cordial strengthened partly due to common factors like India. The author further finds that even after the normalization of India-China ties, it could not stop both Pakistan and China from cultivating friendly ties with strong economic and military support to the former in the difficult period.

The third chapter is about China's reforms and modernization and relations with Pakistan (1978-89) (p. 99). This part of the study identifies that in the post-Mao era of reforms and modernization, China expanded its scope of relations with its South Asian neighbours. …

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