China Power

Security Concerns: A ‘Threat to Sino-Pak Friendship’?

Plus the Tiananmen anniversary and the Pentagon’s China report. Friday China links.

Security Concerns: A ‘Threat to Sino-Pak Friendship’?
Credit: China and Pakistan flags image via Shutterstock

This week’s China links:

A commentary in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper expresses concern over a “threat to Sino-Pak friendship.” The article points to terrorism and other security threats as a major issue in China-Pakistan relationship. Of China’s three major concerns regarding the China-Pakistan economic corridor, only one actually has the potential to derail the project entirely: Beijing’s security concerns.

Chinese leaders are concerned about the potential for terrorists trained in Pakistan reentering and conducting attacks in China, but they are just as worried that Pakistan’s government will be unable to guarantee the safety of Chinese workers within Pakistan. In fact, the recent kidnapping of a Chinese tourist in Balochistan seems to have inspired the Dawn commentary.

The article concludes by saying that Chinese analysts hope for Islamabad to take military action against militants in the tribal areas, where the leaders of the anti-China Turkestan Islmaic Party (TIP) are also believed to be based. And Pakistan cannot afford to ignore Chinese pressure on this issue; as the piece notes, “China is investing around $52 billion in major projects in Pakistan.”

In other news, this week marked the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests. In case you missed it, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post has an excellent multimedia collection called “Voices from Tiananmen.” The page includes accounts from “former government officials, student leaders and other eyewitnesses” as well as photographs, videos, and newspaper clippings from 1989. It’s well worth checking out, as is the website of the excellent 1995 documentary Gate of Heavenly Peace. Of course, The Diplomat had plenty of coverage as well. Check out Zach Keck’s summary of comments by Winston Lord, the U.S. Ambassador to China in 1989, and his take on the odds of a modern-day Tiananmen movement. In a Diplomat feature, Tim Robertson explores the protestors’ demands beyond calls for democracy, and how modern China has (or hasn’t) lived up to those demands.

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Meanwhile, Global Times provides an oblique rebuttal to the coverage of the Tiananmen protests in an article arguing that Chinese youth are “not a generation of ‘Square People.’”  The article parrots the typical line that today’s Chinese are more interested in material goods than in politics, but says this is not due to indifference. Rather, GT argues China’s youth are quite concerned with social problems such as the plight of migrant workers and environmental protection.

Finally, as Zach reported yesterday, the Pentagon’s annual report of China’s military development was released this week. The full report can be found online here. And China has likewise issued its annual rebuttal: Xinhua accused the report of containing “incorrect ‘facts,’ inaccurate descriptions and ill-intended accusations concerning China’s intentions of military modernization and the size of its defense spending.” Xinhua argued that the report ignored China’s “peaceful defense strategy” (although the Pentagon did acknowledge China’s stated goals of a “peaceful rise,” it also expressed concern that China’s  lack of transparency was causing strategic uncertainty in the region). “With a military that is defensive in nature, China never deviates from its pursuit of peaceful development,” another Xinhua article said.