In the buildup to a huge military parade in Beijing, more evidence of the close relationship between China and Pakistan.
Alongside thousands of Chinese troops and hundreds of pieces of hardware, up to 1,000 foreign troops from 17 countries will participate in the event on September 3. It will be the first time foreign troops have been invited to parade with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) units, according to INP.
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India will not send troops to participate in parade
Also on display will be high-tech pieces of domestically produced military hardware, another sign that China is increasingly comfortable with its military power. Battle-tanks, long-range bombers and missiles will all be shown off during the vent in Beijing.
According to Chinese officials, it invited a number of countries to send high-level delegations to the event, in addition to 75 troops that would march alongside Chinese soldiers. While an invitation was extended to Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, New Delhi rejected the request.
Mukherjee and Indian troops participated in a similar event in Russia in May, but have declined to attend China’s parade, which marks the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan in World War II.
Indian troops will not attend, and New Delhi will be represented by Minister of State for External Affairs General (retd.) VK Singh. He does not fit the profile of the high-level delegates that China was expecting, and the issue may cause tension between the two neighbors.
China, Pakistan and India: Regional geopolitical situation remains complicated
While India traditionally enjoys a close relationship with Russia, relations are colder with China. Lingering enmity after the Sino-Indian war and concerns over China’s relationship with Pakistan make it difficult for politicians to maintain a normal relationship.
Another concern for India is the fact that Indian troops would have been made to march alongside Pakistani counterparts during the Chinese parade. Pakistan accepted the invitation from China and sent 75 troops, who have been praised for their performance during rehearsals by Chinese media and social media users.
Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussian is likely to attend the meeting, where he will be joined by Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korea’s Park Geun-hye, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, Myanmar President Thein Sein and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang.
A number of troops from Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Pakistan, Serbia, Tajikistan and Russia will also take part in the parade.
China asks for demonstration of friendship
According to Chinese strategic expert Jin Canrong of Renmin University, the invitations were designed to find out who the “true friends” of China are. “One of the diplomatic aims behind the military parade is to make clear who will be China’s true friends,” Jin said during an interview with the South China Morning Post.
As China moves to project military power beyond its borders, it is increasingly causing complications in Asia. India is concerned by increased Chinese activity in the Indian Ocean, in addition to the sale of 8 submarines to the Pakistani Navy.
Plans for economic expansion are also cause for controversy. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor runs through the disputed territory of Kashmir, and has caused outrage in India.
While Pakistan stands to benefit from its close relationship with China, India looks on as its historical enmity means it is isolated from a huge source of foreign investment. Relations between the three nations prevent regional progress, and hold back economic development.
International relations in Asia in a period of flux
Due to Western economic sanctions imposed on Russia which have isolated the country from European markets, Vladimir Putin has made a strategic pivot to the East. Russia’s greater emphasis on working with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization provides evidence of this strategy, but things are not developing as quickly as Moscow would like.
India and Pakistan both joined the organization this year, and it was hoped that relations between the two neighbors would improve as a result. However historical issues have prevented progress from being made, and exchanges of fire continue along the disputed border in Kashmir.
China is exerting an ever greater influence in the region, and Russia appears to be trying to forge closer ties in order to minimize its international isolation. For its part China seems more concerned with pursuing its own goals, such as improving trade routes across Asia, rather than devoting any great energy to relations with Russia.
Chinese investment in Pakistan should improve the supply of energy, which has previously discouraged foreign investment. If energy security can be improved by projects like the largest solar farm in the world, we could see significant economic growth in Pakistan.