China wants to help ease the long-standing conflict between India and Pakistan. And it has a plan for it.
Last June, Beijing paved the way for the two countries to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a Eurasian political, economic and security organisation founded by China, Russia, and a number of other Central Asian counties, Forbes reported.
This year, Beijing wants military personnel from both countries to participate in counter-terror exercises under the “Peace Mission 2018.”
There’s an official reason behind Beijing’s plan. The easing of conflict will foster economic ties between the two countries, the same way easing of tension between China and the US in the 1970s fostered economic relations between the two countries.
But there are a couple of unofficial reasons, too.
One of them is that easing of tensions between the two countries will serve China’s efforts to complete building of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
That’s the express link between Western China, the Middle East, and Africa -- China's second continent. Ideologically that can explain why Beijing has committed $46 billion to the project.
The trouble is that CPEC passes through Pakistani regions claimed by India. That makes it a rough road, to say the least -- Pakistan and India continue to fight for control of these regions. That’s why China needs India to make peace with Pakistan.
Another reason Beijing wants to see peace between the two countries is to find a market for its products, especially as tensions between China and the US escalate.
“China has always believed in an economic solution to solve the world’s challenges,” says Vijay Eswaran, Malaysian entrepreneur and Chairman of QI Group of Companies. “In that context China may be willing to play a role in potentially improving ties between India and Pakistan” “The ongoing trade threats from US to China encourage the latter to find a new big market. And India, the largest market for Chinese goods outside of the US is right in its neighbourhood.”
That’s why Beijing wants to use its leverage with Pakistan to ease conflicts between the two countries. But it won’t work, for a couple of reasons. One of them is that the two countries have a different perception regarding what ‘terrorism’ consists of.
Another reason is that China has so far done very little to satisfy India. Quite the opposite: repeatedly blocking India's efforts to join the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG).
And it has sided openly with Pakistan in the India-Pakistan Kashmir standoff, as evidenced by statements by China’s senior officials on the sidelines of United Nations General Assemblies.
Then there’s India's siding with the US in the South China Sea disputes.
The bottom line: Beijing has a long way to go before it can bring India and Pakistan to the table and ease long standing conflicts between the two countries.