China should pay more attention this year to the quality and effectiveness of its economic cooperation with and assistance to Pakistan, as ties are set to get closer amid hostility from the US.
After US President Donald Trump used Twitter to slam Pakistan for harboring terrorists, the US State Department said on Thursday that it would suspend security assistance to Pakistan until the country takes decisive action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, according to Reuters.
As US aid to Pakistan has already been on the decline in recent years, the latter is reportedly concerned about the potential impact of this latest move on its fragile economy. While the US seems unlikely to impose comprehensive economic sanctions on Pakistan, its hostile attitude toward Pakistan is expected to exert certain pressure on the economy, especially for Pakistani companies with Iran-related business.
In these circumstances, it makes perfect sense for Pakistan to shift its foreign policy focus toward China and Russia. The day after Trump’s strongly worded tweet, Pakistan’s central bank announced that it will be replacing the US dollar with the yuan for bilateral trade and investment with China, a move seen as a clear signal of closer ties.
China will, of course, continue its economic support to Pakistan. China sees Pakistan as a prime partner under the Belt and Road initiative, with land and sea projects worth billions of dollars (known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) under construction. The key to China’s cooperation with and assistance to Pakistan will be to improve the quality of bilateral cooperation so that relevant projects can boost the Pakistani economy as soon as possible.
It should be made clear that such China-Pakistan cooperation is not meant as competition for geopolitical advantage with the US, but to really help the Pakistani economy by strengthening its infrastructure. Sustainable economic development in Pakistan will play a positive role in stabilizing the geopolitical environment in South Asia, which will be conducive to overall regional development.
In addition, India needs to change its view of Pakistan. It is reported that the US move to cut aid to Pakistan was a result of India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomacy, according to a tweet by BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao. This mindset of harming others without gaining any benefiting oneself will only aggravate the confrontation, dragging each other down.