|South Asia Analysis Group - Aftermath Of Osama Bin Laden: The China Factor
Aftermath Of Osama Bin Laden: The China Factor ? Analysis
"Notwithstanding China?s cryptic official welcome to the elimination of Osama, its official media is busy spinning another story. To put it briefly, the China Daily, the Global Times, the Xinhua among others are projecting the episode on two tracks (i) US violation of Pakistan?s sovereignty which, of course, extends to USA?s disregard of international law, and (ii) the possible success of US intervention in West Asia and North Africa and the US success on Osama in Pakistan as a prelude to even closer cooperation between the US and India to counter China. China?s worry is that too much international pressure can encourage a rising small section in Pakistan to raise the demand to overhaul the army ? intelligence establishment, Beijing?s trump card in Pakistan. This powerful establishment cannot be changed in hurry, but can be weakened, resulting in a set-back to China?s Af-Pak strategy.
China?s Pakistan policy or rather strategy, has a history to its position in Afghanistan. During the Afghan war against the Soviet Union, China partnered Pakistan and the Mujahedeen against the Soviet Union very quietly, but not really collaborating with the US efforts. On tactical issues it took inputs from Pakistan. Groups like Gulbuddin Hekmatiyar and his Hizb-e-Islami were on their pay roll. The Afghan Taliban (with or without the Al Qaida) had strong Chinese support, which was encashed when the Taliban established its government in Kabul. Although China did not establish official diplomatic relations with the Taliban government, it maintained a de-facto relationship with it through Pakistan. It is on record that Chinese state owned specialised telecommunication companies like the ZTE helped the Taliban government to set up systems including radars, and communication systems. China?s execution of its economic and strategic interests in Afghanistan got delayed by the US-led war on terror. But it is beginning to think that the time is approaching to play the right cards and networking in Afghanistan. China won a $3.5 billion contract to develop Afghanistan?s Aynak copper mine in 2008. China is starved of domestic raw materials and has been going outright to the resource fields in which its own workers will find employment. It is not bothered about the environment degradation that it leaves behind, something which is about to happen in some of their African investments. There is an active plan for a quadrilateral freight rail road from Xinjiang in western China through Tajikistan, Afghanistan to Pakistan. This would extend their land connectivity to close friend Iran, and the greater Central Asian region. All these projects are to support China?s western development plan, and supplement its basic raw material requirement. We need to keep in view China?s interest in developing Afghan gas and oil deposits."