A day after U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out at Islamabad for allegedly sheltering terrorists and threatened to cut off its military aid, China defended Pakistan, taking its side amidst attacks from the U.S.
President Trump’s entered his second year of presidency with a tweet that sparked mass outrage, accusing Pakistan of harboring Islamic militants and propagating “lies and deceit” despite the billions of dollars they have received in military and foreign aid.
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” Mr. Trump tweeted on New Year’s Day.
Apart from a media outrage, Trump’s tweet on Pakistan has caused mass protests across Pakistan, with the port city of Karachi seeing protesters burning images of President Trump and chanting anti-American slogans.
China Defended Pakistan
Less than a day after President Trump’s controversial tweet, China defended Pakistan in an official statement made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to NDTV, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang spoke to reporters earlier on Tuesday and made it clear that China defended Pakistan, praising the “deep” China-Pakistan relationship and defending its “all weather” partner.
“Pakistan has made enormous efforts and sacrifice for the fight against terrorism and has made very outstanding contribution to the global cause of counter-terrorism. The international community should acknowledge that” Mr. Geng said when asked about Trump’s criticism of Pakistan.
According to The Hindu, Geng also stated that China is glad to see Pakistan engaging in international cooperation “so as to contribute to regional peace and stability.” He continued to praise Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts, highlighting its “outstanding contribution” to the war on terrorism.
“China and Pakistan are all-weather partners. We stand ready to promote and deepen our all-around cooperation so as to bring benefits to the two sides,” NDTV reported Mr. Geng saying.
China wants to mediate age-old feuds
When asked how President Trump’s latest outburst on Twitter would affect China’s efforts to bring peace to Pakistan, Geng stated that China defending Pakistan is part of a larger plan to enhance communication and bilateral exchanges between the neighboring states. “We believe as neighbors China, Pakistan and Afghanistan are closely linked not only geographically but also in terms of common interests. It is natural for us to enhance communication and exchanges,” he said.
Beijing’s support for Islamabad comes as no surprise – this is not the first time China defends Pakistan. China is currently the biggest investor in Pakistan, having already poured around 50 billion dollars in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). With the scope of the already massive infrastructure project increasing each year, China continues to face harsh criticism from Pakistan’s neighbors, most notably India. As CPEC passes through the Pakistan-occupied region of Kashmir, India has objected China’s influence on the project.
Rising tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have forced China to abandon direct involvement in the issue of Kashmir and focus on solving the two countries’ border issues. Hosting the first-ever trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, Beijing has announced plans to extend the CPEC to Afghanistan.
As Afghanistan shares close ties with neighboring India, investing in Afghan infrastructure might give China the upper hand in further talks with India. Despite the fact that Afghanistan has been very vocal in accusing Pakistan of harboring Taliban militants, China wants the two spatting countries to cooperate on the multi-billion infrastructure project that will give China a clear route to the Arabian Sea.
According to The International News, Foreign ministers of the three countries said after the trilateral meeting that there was a consensus to take “indiscriminate measures against the menace of terrorism.”
Everything leads back to China
In a recent report by The Hindu, it’s suggested that President Trump’s mounting pressure on Pakistan is a direct result of Islamabad firming up an alliance with Beijing. With many analysts agreeing on the fact that China is on the path of becoming the United States’ biggest enemy, Hindu’s claims don’t seem all that removed from the truth. As China defends Pakistan in all instances of foreign accusations, it’s clear that a close tie between the two Asian countries has been established.
Heavy Chinese investments in Pakistan will provide Beijing with a clear and direct access to the Arabian Sea, and then the Indian Ocean. With Northern and Eastern Africa now at the tip of China’s fingers, along with the entirety of the Arabian peninsula, its trade could skyrocket, leaving the U.S. at a distant second place.
How the situation with Pakistan will progress is yet to be seen. With Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif denying receiving 33-billion-dollars worth of aid from the U.S., and numerous other Pakistani officials expressing outrage over President Trump’s tweet, Islamabad’s ties with Beijing are bound to strengthen even further.