Pak-US vs Pak-China relations

By S.m. Hali

Decision makers in Pakistan are often torn between opting for strategic relations with the US or China: ties with either of the two should be mutually exclusive. However, as Pakistanis wonder whether Pakistan is a US ‘ally’ or ‘target’, China with its quiet unobtrusive help continues to win the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan. The question here is, why is it that the US continues to pump money, train Pakistani security forces and provide technical support, yet it continues to draw flak? It is worth examining the reason for this dichotomy.

The Pak-US military relations have been like a rollercoaster ride. Historically, no US ally has faced as many sanctions from it as Pakistan. A brief history of the Pak-US military relations indicates that they commenced in 1954/55, with the signing of the SEATO/CENTO pact, after which Pakistan started receiving weapons and training from America. In July 1957, Pakistan permitted the US to establish a secret intelligence facility in the country and for the U-2 spy plane to operate from Badaber, near Peshawar. But when the plane was shot down by the Soviet army and its pilot captured alive on May 1, 1960, it embarrassed the US and brought Soviet ire on Pakistan. Since the Pakistani government was kept in the dark regarding the clandestine US operations, it asked the US to wind up its activities in Pakistan.

During the Indo-China war in 1962, the US supply of defence equipment to India, despite Pakistan’s objections, soured the Pak-US relations. On the contrary, the US did not come to Pakistan’s aid either in the 1965 or the 1971 Indo-Pak wars, despite a pact for mutual defence, forcing Pakistan to denounce its SEATO and CENTO membership. In addition, the Pak-US relations underwent a severe blow with Pakistan’s nuclear tests on May 28, 1998, and the ensuing sanctions. The ouster of then premier Nawaz Sharif in 1999 in a military coup led by General Musharraf gave the US government another reason to invoke fresh sanctions under Section 508 of the Foreign Appropriations Act, which included restrictions on foreign military financing and economic assistance.

Now let us examine Pak-China relations briefly. The relationship between the two countries began in 1950s when Pakistan was among the first countries, and the only Muslim nation, to recognise the People’s Republic of China and tried to build good relations with the newly independent country. Pakistan also helped China become a member of the United Nations and has been instrumental in helping it to maintain relations with the Muslim world. It has also played a leading role in bridging the communication gap between China and the West, through Henry Kissinger’s secret visit in 1971, which became the forerunner of President Nixon’s historic Beijing tour, establishing to the world that China was a lawful entity. Read more of this post

India Blind To New Realities

New Dynamics Are In Place
India cannot fathom the new ground realities

By Moin Ansari

As Tomas Kunh said a long time ago “The paradigm has shifted, and when the paradigm shifts, everything goes back to zero”. The world watched (pun intended) aghast as the Swiss watch making industry was decimated by an electronic watch marketed by TI and Casio. Ironically the electronic watch was invented by the Swiss themselves. Within years 60% of the Swiss labor force had to scramble to find non-existent jobs.

In another paradigm shift the books on international relations had to be rewritten and map makers had to work overtime to paint the new realities. The planet watched the demise of the USSR and the liberation of Central Asia Republics and the unity of Germany.   The profound change dissolved the dreams of Catherine the Great of reaching the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. Pakistan as a new custodian of those waters breathed a sigh of relief.

The impending US withdrawal and its “coopetition” with China is another paradigm shift which transforms South and Central Asia. Pakistan has been building its relationship with China for decades. It was a gift born out of the blunders of Nehru in Kashmir and Tibet. If Nehru had not triggered belligerency with Pakistan and China in 1948, the world would have been different. However he and other politicians in Delhi had an opportunity to build Asia–they tried to build Akhand Bharat–aggravating each and every one of their neighbors. Today Bharat faces a foreign policy Armageddon–but it is one of its own making. It cannot see Pakistan. It wants to devour Bangladesh, Sikkim and Bhutan. It wants to colonize Afghanistan. It wants to step on Lanka. It wants to bamboozle Nepal. The chickens have come home to roost. In an opportunistic move to please Israel and America it betrayed Iran, and that betrayal will cost it Afghanistan. All have teamed up and want nothing to do with Bharat. Even Afghans in the Kabul palaces want Delhi out. The sad thing is in instigating trouble in all its neighbors, it has rocked the boat internally. Bharat faces colossal issues within its boundaries.

The Times of India is one of the most vocal critics of anything Pakistani. This week the chagrin has been more vitriolic than usual. Perhaps it is chagrined by the Pakistani deftness in Afghanistan, or it is pure hatred of anything to do with Islamabad–one can never tell. This much is certain, the entire Bharati (aka India) media is in a tizzy fit about Bharat’s diminished role and imminent eviction from Pakistan. South block and the entire Bharati diplomatic corps are seeing the world change in front of them, and they can’t seem to do anything about it. Mad dashes to Riyadh, Tehran, and Beijing have come to naught.

Delhi seems to represent a rejectionist front all on its own. No other country has joined the “stay the course in Afghanistan”. The world seems to have rejected the Delhi notion of “no compromise in Afghanistan”, no “talks with Pakistan”, and no “Nuclear deals with China”.

The Planet wants a Pan-Afghan solution, certainly the Afghans want it. The neighbors want it, and Pakistan desires it. Pakistan and Afghanistan are natural partners with a built in mechanisms to unite. What’s more important is that the US, the UK and Europe have bought into it and just want a face saving exit from Kabul.

Delhi’s think tanks are beyond panic on the NSGs silence, and the American wink wink nod nod whispered acquiescence of China’s policy of helping Pakistan. Many analysts have actually said that President Obama has asked China to help Pakistan in energy and other fields. Some international think tanks also say that the US and China have held a “Malta” type of conference and allocated areas of influence–and Asia and Africa falls in the Chinese lap, while Europe and the Americas fall under American influences. In other words Bernard Lewis’s map of the Confucian power is being implemented.

The Bharati media is stung not by the Nuclear deal, but by the fact that the NSG simply ignored Delhi. Delhi pulled all the stops in its opposition to the Pakistan-China deal–and ended up in knots. Neither the US, nor any of the European countries seem to be concerned about the Pakistani-China deal. Only Delhi is jumping up and down antagonizing Beijing, irritating the US, and pouring water on the peace process with Pakistan. Bharat’s stance in front of the NSG is comical–it goes something like this “make an exception for us, but not for anyone else, be it Pakistan or Iran”.  In Psychiatric terms, Delhi’s self image differs dramatically from the image others have of it–when the images are very different, it is a true sign of lunacy. Bharat sees itself special. Other powers see it as a bully, a paper tiger, and a spoilt brat—a naked penury strken one with a distended stomach. Bharat sees itself as a huge powerful elephant. These two images cannot be reconciled by a $42 billion Call Center industry–which affects 6 million Bharatis only. Its the other billion that overwhlems the world–its the other billion which are not shown on Bollywood and which doesn’t seem to exist for the Delhi politicians. The Delhi politicians are busy projecting power when huge cavities in Kashmir, Assam and Naxal control area sap the strenght of any argument that emanates from Bharat.

The TOI report had a horrid headline. However the roundup of the news from Pakistan is a true representation of the level of consternation in Delhi. The Bharati media was championing Incredible India which would rule the world. Egged on by the religious right, the sensational newspapers reported the Neocon nonsense and the naive Bharati population lapped it up.

When the rubber hit the road, Bharat discovered that Condaleeza Rice could coronate Bharat as a super power, even if she wanted to. Slumdog pured water on the dreams and the aspirations of the irredentist and revanchist media weaned on the Indian National Congress propaganda machine which projects a hyperbolic version of the future of Bharat. Foreign Leaders know what the Bharati media wants to hear. They say the right words and then laugh their way to the bank.

Meager success in the past decade has given the media a false sense of security. The hubris and arrogance is unfathomable and very nonsensical. No America president or European Prime Minster is as arrogant an ordinary two-bit Bharati bureaucrat.

The TOI report below is a treat to read, because it gives a real vignette of what Bharati’s are thinking. Mr. Zardari has a strong government supported by a friendly opposition, by the army and by the international media. Calling Mr. Zardari names simply informs us that the TOI is frustrated at the success of the Zardari government in dismantling Delhi’s designs in the neighborhood.

The China National Nuclear Corporation recently announced that China would set up two power reactors in Pakistan. It was a move that raised India’s hackles.

Iran and China forge stronger relationship with Pakistan

TOI, the Bharati media and the Delhi establishment seem to have discovered the C-3, and C-4 Nuclear plants  as “new deals”. Rupee News has been reporting on them for years. Mr. Zardari’s trip to China has little to do with C-3 and C-4, that was already presented by China to the NSG as a fait accomplii. Mr. Zardari’s trip was multifaceted and profound in many ways. It has engaged China in economic, industrial, housing,  and transit ventures which will literally transform all of Asia. The Trans-Korakoram rail link will be an engineering feat and will connect Xinjiang, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan etc to the warm waters of the Arabian sea. This was the dream of Catherine the Great and one of the visions of Mao Zedung.

The rail and road links will enhance trade, and commerce along the silk route. While the Bharati media discusses the 150 km road in Afghanistan day in and day out–it cannot appreciate or fathom the engineering marvels that are going on in the Karakorums.  The trip now allows two additional points of contact between China and Paksitan. These three links have colossal potential and will help China in getting its goods to the sea quickly and rapidly.

The TOI articles are myopic only about the Nuclear deal which was signed a decade ago–before the Indo-US deal. Bharat’s brouhaha about the Sino-Pakistani deal is an acknowledgement of Pakistan’s Nuclear status and the growing Sino-Pakistani relationship.  Noise from Delhi has highlighted Pakistan’s civilian nuclear deal which will encourage other countries to follow suit. The US is on the fence–and has moved from a “solid no” to a “maybe” to a “soon” to a “OK” stance. It needs a little more encouragement, and will award Pakistan parity—just like the NSG has done. Read more of this post

Testing moments for the NSG!

Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie shakes hand with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani prior to their meeting in Islamabad.

By Air Cdre Khalid Iqbal (R)

In keeping with its discriminatory policy of selective application of Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the United States has decided to object to a Sino-Pak civilian nuclear arrangement for setting up two atomic power plants in Pakistan. America is expected to make certain obstructive observations during the meeting of ‘Nuclear Suppliers Group’ (NSG). NSG is an international cartel of nuclear technology suppliers and was not created by an international treaty. Regulations of NSG are nonbinding. China joined the cartel voluntarily. It is interesting to recall that the NSG was created in 1975 to standardize nuclear trade rules as a reaction to India’s testing of a nuclear explosive device. The objective of creating the NSG was to prevent access of nuclear material and know-how to the countries which are non-signatories to the NPT.

Ironically the same NSG was pressurized by America, Russia and France to make country specific exemption to kick start US-India nuclear deal (Agreement 123) in 2008. IAEA also buckled under pressure to make country specific exception to enable India’s access to nuclear material and know how. India continues to be a non-signatory of NPT. Now the NSG is under the international focus because global nuclear trade regime is at its defining moments. Under duress the group exempted India from a long standing NSG requirement that non nuclear weapon states benefiting from nuclear trade must put all their nuclear activities under the safeguards and supervision of the IAEA, ensuring that they are for peaceful uses. In the aftermath of the US–India deal the NSG will have to perform a delicate balancing act to find the least unsatisfactory solution to China’s challenge. In the view of some NSG states, an agreement permitting China to regularise the exports under the 2004 nuclear cooperation agreement with Pakistan would be the least damaging outcome.

Nevertheless, in a typical twist of hypocrisy, an erratic perception is being generated that the Pak-China arrangement appears to be violating international guidelines forbidding nuclear exports to the countries that have not signed the NPT or do not have international safeguards on reactors. Contrasting it with Agreement 123 reveals that whereas Pak-China arrangement is purely for power generation under comprehensive IAEA safeguards, Agreement 123 exempts 8 nuclear reactors from IAEA safeguards allowing sufficient fissile material to make around 280 warheads per year. This is in addition to India’s ongoing programme of 13 fast breeder reactors. As such it is a misnomer to calls Agreement 123 as ‘US-India Civil Nuclear Deal’. It is indeed US-Indian collusion toward nuclear weapons proliferation programme.

As a follow on to Agreement 123, America and India have recently signed a nuclear fuel reprocessing agreement to further augment their dubious bilateral nuclear deal that would open the venues for India to recycle American spent nuclear fuel. This would facilitate participation by US firms in India’s rapidly expanding civil nuclear energy sector. As a part of ‘United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement Act of 2008’, India is required to establish a ‘Civil Nuclear Liability Regime’ to limit compensation by American nuclear companies operating in India, in case of nuclear accidents. ‘The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010’ has attracted resistance from labour rights and human rights activist individuals and organizations. Scars of Bhopal accident are too fresh in the memory of Indian public to support this controversial legislation.

‘China National Nuclear Corporation’ is contemplating to set up two new power plants at Chashma, the sale is a leftover of an agreement that China had entered into, before its joining of the NSG in 2004. At that time China was completing work on two reactors for Pakistan. That agreement carried a provision of commissioning of two additional reactors. As Pak-China nuclear agreement is expected to come up before the NSG, the US has communicated to China that it expects Beijing to cooperate with Pakistan in ways consistent with Chinese nonproliferation obligations. Western and Indian media has gone into top gear to create a perception that this bilateral cooperation would breach international protocol about the trade of nuclear equipment and material. Read more of this post

China has neither changed its policy on the Kashmir dispute nor would it abandon Pakistan in difficult times: Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi

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Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi’s remark, during a press conference at Beijing the other day, that his country has neither changed its policy on the Kashmir dispute nor would it abandon Pakistan in difficult times, is only an expression of the reality on the ground. The Chinese have gone out of their way to help Pakistan, even losing the lives of their citizens in the process. The construction of several crucial infrastructural projects, in economic as well as defence fields, gave a wholesome push to our industrial and commercial activity and lent muscle to our military machine. And Mr Yang’s reference to the possibility of making additional sale of arms and aircraft to Pakistan in the context of continuing to “expand practical means of cooperation” is the latest manifestation of the deep understanding existing between the two countries.

The Chinese support to Pakistan through thick and thin has never been in doubt, for one thing because the causes that the two countries pursue are of unquestionable legal and ethical validity. Islamabad benefited a great deal from the help it received from Beijing, which, unlike the rest of the aid-giving world, has invariably been without any strings. However, there has always been a strong feeling in patriotic political circles that Pakistan has, most unwisely, missed or at least balked at making full use of the opportunities that came its way to further cement the bilateral relations. Its successive ruling classes have invariably had, it is a great pity, misplaced fascination for the so-called friendly Western nations, which refused to give their help to Pakistan when it was most needed. Read more of this post

Tribute to Pakistan by Chinese

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U.S. Tightens Missile Shield Encirclement Of China And Russia

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Rick Rozoff:

So far this year the United States has succeeded in inflaming tensions with China and indefinitely holding up a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia through its relentless pursuit of global interceptor missile deployments.

On January 29 the White House confirmed the completion of a nearly $6.5 billion weapons transfer to Taiwan which includes 200 advanced Patriot anti-ballistic missiles. Earlier in the same month it was reported that Washington is also to provide Taiwan with eight frigates which Taipei intends to equip with the Aegis Combat System that includes the capacity for ship-based Standard Missile-3 interceptors.

The Aegis sea-based component of the expanding U.S. interceptor missile system already includes Japan, South Korea and Australia, and with Taiwan added China would be justified in being apprehensive.

On February 28 the U.S. House and Senate foreign affairs committees permitted the “sale to Taiwan of missiles, helicopters and ships valued at about $6.4 billion” despite weeks of protests from China. “The U.S. Defense Department wants to sell Taiwan the most advanced Patriot anti-missile system….The system, valued at $2.8 billion, would add to Taiwan’s network of 22 missile sites around the country….” [1]

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang recently stated “The responsibility for the current difficulties in China-U.S. relations [belongs] completely to the U.S. side” for failing to recognize and respect China’s “core interests.” [2]

If the proposed placement of U.S. missile shield components in Poland, the Czech Republic, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Alaska and elsewhere were explained by alleged missile threats emanating from Iran and North Korea, the transfer of U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles to Taiwan – and, as was revealed in January, 35 miles from Russian territory in Poland – represents the crossing of a new threshold. The Patriots in Taiwan and Poland and the land- and sea-based missiles that will follow them are intended not against putative “rogue states” but against two major nuclear powers, China and Russia.

The PAC-3, “one of the most comprehensive upgrade programs ever undertaken on an American weapon system,” [3] is in theory a strictly defensive anti-ballistic missile system, targeting cruise and tactical ballistic missiles. However, it has seven times the range of its PAC-2 predecessor and with plans for a yet further major upgrade, the Missile Segment Enhancement, its operational capability will be doubled again. With a future range of some 300 kilometers, the PAC-3 would be able to intercept and destroy missiles over Chinese and Russian territory.

The English-language government newspaper China Daily published an article on February 22 called “China circled by chain of US anti-missile systems,” which observed that “Quite a few military experts have noted that Washington’s latest proposed weapon deal with Taiwan is the key part of a US strategic encirclement of China in the East Asian region, and that the missiles could soon have a footprint that extends from Japan to the Republic of Korea and Taiwan.” [4]

The article cites a Chinese air force colonel and military strategist as contending that “China is in a crescent-shaped ring of encirclement. The ring begins in Japan, stretches through nations in the South China Sea to India, and ends in Afghanistan. Washington’s deployment of anti-missile systems around China’s periphery forms a crescent-shaped encirclement.”
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Despite India’s advances in missile technology, the country is still a decade behind China

BEIJING: Despite India’s advances in missile technology, the country is still a decade behind China, a top Chinese defence analyst has claimed and asserted that Beijing does not view New Delhi as its “strategic rival.”

Shrugging off concerns that newer versions of India’s Agni missiles could strike the northernmost tips of China, the state-run Global Times, quoting a top analyst said India may take five more years to achieve this capability.

The analyst also dismissed the claims that India is far ahead of China in developing interceptor technology, the paper said this week, days after India tested the Agni- III, which has a 3,500 km range.

Chinese Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong, a professor at the prestigious Chinese National Defence University, said India is still 10 to 15 years behind China in terms of missile technology.

“It’s still unknown when the Agni-III will be deployed by the Indian army, though they claim the missile is ready for use. And it might take at least another five years to ready the Agni-V,” Zhang was quoted as saying.

He also claimed that China did not see India as a strategic rival, and developed weapons to counter it.

“In developing its military technology, China has never taken India as a strategic rival, and none of its weapons were specifically designed to contain India,” the Global Times quoted Zhang as saying. Read more of this post

When the Guns Fizzed and the Gizmos Fizzled

All the “Daisy Cutters”, Nuclear tipped bombs, and the finest drones on the planet could not stand up to the raw grit of those that opposed occupation. All the kings horses and the all the kings men could not put humpty back together or subdue the fierce fighters of Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are clear signs of operationalization of the peace plan in Kabul. The surge was imply to assuage the hawks in the Republican Party–the real Afghan reassessment was to get American boys out of the treacherous Hindu Kush. Defeat is a clichéd word–there are no winners in war. Victory is exaggerated concept. Absolute defeats have never been able to quell the resistance. Absolute victories have always lead to future wars–be it Sparta, Versailles or Kabul.

As Shakespeare would say “when the hurly burly’s done, and the battle is lost and won“–there is time to make a fresh start.

When a country is not able to impose its will and might–it is some sort of defeat. The Americans today need a face saving exit strategy from Afghanistan. The Taliban, Pakistan and all other countries of the world should assist the US in a phased, expeditious and honorable withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Over the past several years, we have predicted that the US will exit Afghanistan in 2011 right before the US elections. The tell tale signs of the operationalization of this policy is writ in large all over the billboards called newspapers.

There are numerous indications confirming our well calculated predictions: the polite decline to Delhi on their exuberance to begin training the Afghan forces; the offering of Shadow drones to Pakistan; the peace talks with the Afghan Taliban; the mood and the statements of the big boys in preperation of the Afghan Conference on January 28th, 2010; the acceptance of the Pakistani point of view on halting further operations in FATA; the usage of Pakistani mediators in back channel diplomacy to include the Taliban in the current Kabul government; and the offer of further US military and financial aid to Pakistan. The carrots offered to Pakistan are not for free–Milton Friedman was right “that ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. Pakistan is being offered new toys and more Dollars for her assistance in helping the American extricate themselves out of the Afghan quagmire.

America had a decision to make. Stick with General McChrystal’s policy of more soldiers, more mercenaries and more war–supplemented with more drone bombing and more targeted murders (drones and otherwise). More war has always created more enemies. This has never been more true than in Afghanistan and Pakistan today.

Washington’s other choice was less war, less soldiers and less enemies. President Obama hedged his bets with the first option, and then is pursuing the 2nd option aggressively.

While some may claim that the Great Game is over–and Pakistan won. However, this is not the time for crowing from the rooftops. This is the time to let loose the doves from the allow them to to fly into the sun. There are many steps between the lips and cup. There are many impediments to peace in the Panshir and tranquility in Waziristan. We believe that the right steps are being taken.

A show of strength followed up with massive financial aid and assistance will yield the right results. Once the troops begin leaving, the civilian surge, accompanied with suitcases full of Dollars will persuade the warlords to switch sides (just like the Northern Alliance switched sides in 2001).

There are huge dangers to he peace deal. Bharat (aka India) keenly aware of its sagging influence in Central Asia (specially after the ignominious eviction from Tajikistan) may play the chagrined loser, and stage another Mumbai type of false flag, and try to wage war on Pakistan. This would derail the peace plan. Some of Bharati surrogates in Balochistan and the TTP may be allowed to torpedo peace in the Khyber Pass by assassinating another Pakistani leader, in trying to create ethnic strife in Pakistan. Other international powers may have vested interests in ensuring that the Taliban do not come into power or even share the government in Kabul. Both Israel and Iran are scared of The Talibs.

If President Obama is able to pull this off–it will be a miracle. He has to keep the Indians at bay by selling them toys (double advantage, dollars and Peace); he has to appease the Pakistanis so that they continue their assistance in achieving peace; he has to browbeat Iranian resistance through sanctions and threats; he has to assuage the Chinese that Afghan venture is over with no threat to Beijing; and he has to keep the Russians cool so that they do not think that Central Asia has been taken from them. If he can do this tap dance, the US corporations can make huge profits.

Delhi needs Viagra to prove its manhood. The US can offer the blue pills in many forms–obsolete nuclear plants declared unsafe for America, stripped down F-16s (with lots of spare parts and services), and tons of below quality equipment that the Indians would love to plunk down hard cash for. After all the business of America is doing business. If the US can figure out how to sell billions of Dollars of machines (which will rust in a few years) to Delhi that would be a great achievement. If the US can make a profit out of the Afghan war to recuperate some of its losses, it will be a happy camper. Read more of this post

China warns of ‘serious damage’ if Obama meets Dalai Lama: report

The warning comes after three weeks of increasingly irate exchanges between the US and China over contentious issues including internet censorship, trade and a decision by the Obama administration to sell £4bn of arms to Taiwan.

Although the Chinese government routinely objects to any foreign leaders meeting the exiled Tibetan spirutal leader analysts say the strength of the latest condemnation reflects genuine anger in Beijing at a perceived hardening of US attitudes towards China.

Zhu Weiqun, a vice minister of the united front work department of China’s ruling Communist Party, which steers policy on religious affairs said any meeting would “seriously undermine” the political basis of China-US relations.

“If the U.S. leader chooses this time to meet the Dalai Lama, that would damage trust and co-operation between our two countries, and how would that help the United States surmount the current economic crisis?” added Zhu.

The apparent linking of the economics to the widely expected meeting comes after Beijing took the almost unprecedented step of threatening economic reprisals against US companies participating in the Taiwan arms deal, including the aircraft maker Boeing.

The White House has yet to formally confirm the timing of a meeting with the Dalai Lama who is due in Washington later this month, however officials have made clear that Mr Obama fully intends to meet the Tibetan leader at some point.

A White House spokesman, Mike Hammer, said last month that “the President has made clear to the Chinese government that we intend to meet with the Dalai Lama, it has been his every intention.”

Mr Obama was accused by rights groups of appeasing the Chinese leadership when he failed to take an opportunity to meet the Dalai Lama before his maiden visit to China last November.

Chinese officials are understood to be keen to avoid a meeting before the Chinese President Hu Jintao makes a reciprocal visit to Washington, possibly this April.

The Tibet issue has always been highly sensitive for the Chinese government, but became more so after widespread riots in 2008 seriously shook the party leadership’s confidence in its control over the Himalayan region.

Beijing regards the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Laureate, as a “dangerous separatist” intent on regaining independence for Tibet which he fled in 1959 after a failed uprising, setting up a government-in-exile in the Indian hill station of Dharamsala.

The Dalai Lama, whose profile on the world stage infuriates Beijing, says he wants “meaningful autonomy” for the region, however the latest round of talks between his representatives and Chinese officials ended last week with both sides “sharply divided” according to the Chinese side.

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China mulls setting up military base in Pakistan

BEIJING: China has signaled it wants to go the US way and set up military bases in overseas locations that would possibly include Pakistan. The obvious purpose would be to exert pressure on India as well as counter US influence in Pakistan and Afghanistan.


“(So) it is baseless to say that we will not set up any military bases in future because we have never sent troops abroad,” an article published on Thursday at a Chinese government website said. “It is our right,” the article said and went on to suggest that it would be done in the neighborhood, possibly Pakistan.

“As for the military aspect, we should be able to conduct the retaliatory attack within the country or at the neighboring area of our potential enemies. We should also be able to put pressure on the potential enemies’ overseas interests,” it said.


A military base in Pakistan will also help China keep a check on Muslim Uighur separatists fighting for an independent nation in its western region of Xingjian, which borders the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Beijing recently signed an agreement with the local government of NWFP in order to keep a close watch on the movement of Uighur ultras.

“I have personally felt for sometime that China might one day build a military base in India’s neighborhood. China built the Gadwar port in Pakistan and is now broadening the Karokoram highway. These facilities can always be put to military use when the need arises,” Ramesh V Phadke, former Air Commodore and advisor to the Institute of Defense Studies told TNN.

Phadke said the article in very significant. “The purpose may be to see how the international community reacts to it,” he said.

China, which has no military bases outside its territory, has often criticized the United States for operating such overseas bases. It has not just changed its standpoint but also wants to enter the lucrative protection business.

“With further development, China will be in great demand of the military protection,” the article said. Pakistan, which buys 70% of its military hardware from China, is likely to be an eager buyer for such protection. Beijing may also be able to pressurize Islamabad to accept its diktat using the threat of withholding military supplies.

A Pakistani expert on China-Pakistan relationship has a different view on the subject. “The Americans had a base in the past and it caused a political stink. I don’t think it would be politically possible for the Pakistani government to openly allow China to set up a military base,” he said while requesting anonymity. Pakistan might allow use of its military facilities without publicly announcing it, he said.

A Chinese military base can tackle several international relations issues, it said. One of them is “the relationship between the base troops and the countries neighboring to the host country.” This is another indication that Beijing is considering Pakistan as a possible base. China’s argument is that a foreign base would actually help regional stability.

“If the base troops can maintain the regional stability, it will be probably welcomed by all the countries in the region,” the article said. Beijing is conscious that the move might result in opposition from the US, UK and France which has overseas military bases.

“Thirdly, the relationship between the big countries in the world. The establishment of the troop bases is sensitive to those big countries which have already set up the bases abroad,” the article said.


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