THE MIL­I­TARY DI­MEN­SION

India Today - - COVER STORY -

will be run. Tellingly, one of the AIIB’s first projects was a $300 mil­lion mo­tor­way in Pak­istan, part of CPEC.

Chi­nese of­fi­cials say CPEC will ul­ti­mately ben­e­fit not only Pak­istan but In­dia and the re­gion, as it is help­ing sta­bilise Pak­istan. China’s pri­mary in­ter­est, they in­sist, is sta­bil­ity in the neigh­bour­hood, a pre­req­ui­site for its investments to suc­ceed. “So this will ul­ti­mately also ben­e­fit In­dia as well,” says a for­eign min­istry of­fi­cial. Not ev­ery­one in In­dia might agree with that as­sess­ment. Af­ter all, the larger rea­son for China go­ing all-out to boost Pak­istan is what Chi­nese strate­gists de­scribe as “seek­ing a favourable bal­ance” in South Asia. In other words, China’s prop­ping up of Pak­istan is to en­sure that In­dia con­tin­ues to re­main chal­lenged— and pre­oc­cu­pied—in its own neigh­bour­hood, rather than emerge as a re­gional coun­ter­weight to China.

Bei­jing has been do­ing so on the mil­i­tary front for decades. China’s Com­mu­nist Party and Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) lead­er­ship have deep his­tor­i­cal and in­sti­tu­tional ties with the Pak­istani mil­i­tary, which many in Bei­jing see as hav­ing played a key role in en­sur­ing ties re­mained close, de­spite pe­ri­odic do­mes­tic up­heavals in Pak­istan.

As Pak­istan’s mil­i­tary ties with the US grew rapidly dur­ing the ‘war on ter­ror’, Bei­jing’s of­ten out­dated arms ex­ports be­came less valu­able. But with the US now scal­ing back and even re­view­ing cru­cial ex­ports such as F-16 fighter jets, China’s sup­port has be­come cru­cial. And Bei­jing ap­pears more than will­ing to fill the gap. The two coun­tries are jointly pro­duc­ing JF-17 Thun­der light fighter air­craft, while talks for an ex­port vari­ant of China’s new fifth­gen­er­a­tion stealth fighter are on­go­ing. In August, both coun­tries moved to­wards clinch­ing China’s big­gest ever mil­i­tary deal—the $5 bil­lion sale of eight at­tack sub­marines likely to be de­ployed in the Ara­bian Sea.

Even CPEC has clear mil­i­tary

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