Programme Paper

Project: Asia Programme, Pakistan

Rosheen Kabraji
  • At its core the bond between China and Pakistan is strategic and grounded in military-to-military ties. The agenda will continue to be driven by China, although many areas of cooperation have been established at the behest of Pakistan.
  • This paper examines the image that China and Pakistan have tried to create through a combined approach of multi-dimensional cooperation bolstered by an effective media strategy for their alliance. It argues for a measured interpretation that recognizes the obvious strengths of the Sino-Pakistani relationship but also the less understood parameters of the alliance. 
  • The first section reviews how this 'all-weather' narrative has been built to illustrate why China's engagement with its neighbour is contingent upon the drivers of its own national security, regional ambitions and view of the changing world order, and not on unequivocal support of Pakistan.
  • Official rhetoric highlights similarities but often glosses over the challenges of the relationship. The role of the media seems set to become increasingly important in how the alliance is perceived both by the two countries’ domestic audiences and externally, particularly by India and the United States. 
  • For the relationship to evolve, particularly in the direction Pakistan desires, the two countries will need to move beyond a heavy reliance on military-to-military and elite contacts and include a more diverse range of private-sector investments and people-to-people contacts.