China, Pakistan and India: Nervous Neighbours

The India-Pakistan crisis has once again highlighted the long shadow that Asia’s rising superpower, China, casts on the subcontinent, especially at times of heightened tension. In fact, Beijing has long been the most important player in the India-Pakistan-China triangular relationship. Since the Sino-Indian border war of 1962, China has aligned itself with Pakistan and made heavy strategic and economic investments there to keep the common enemy, India, off-balance.

The World Today Updated 23 October 2020 Published 1 October 2002 6 minute READ

Mohan Malik

Director, Defence Studies Programme, Deakin University, Australia

It is said that each conflict simply prepares the ground for the next. The Afghan war of the 1980s against Soviet occupation culminated in the present ‘war’ on terrorism. It’s too early to say whether this conflict will lead to another war or clash of civilisations, or even a nuclear jihad in South Asia. But China worries more about being drawn into a conflict, not between Pakistan and India, but between Pakistan and the US, with the latter using India as a surrogate. With the top Al Qaeda/Taliban leadership fleeing into Pakistan’s wild west and Kashmir, Beijing knows that Pakistan may be the next battlefield.

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