China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Will Transform the Region, Predicts China Expert
Andrew Small, a fellow with the Asia programme at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, is an expert on Chinese policy in South Asia. His most recent book, The China-Pakistan Axis, explores Pakistan's role in China's geostrategic ambitions and its emerging struggles with Islamic militancy. In this interview with Sanjay Kapoor of Hardnews, Small explained Beijing's changing relationship with Islamabad.
Two months ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Islamabad and announced Beijing's biggest investment in recent times: $46 billion, to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Is there a message in the fact that this occurred just weeks before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to Beijing?
Not really. In fact, China was keen to decouple the Xi visit to Pakistan and Modi’s visit to China as much as possible. The cancellation of the Chinese president’s originally-scheduled trip to Islamabad last year provided an opportunity for Beijing to shift the usual optics of these visits when he finally made it there in April. This was the first time in decades that a Chinese leader has visited Pakistan and India separately. Although there is, of course, an important strategic component of the China-Pakistan relationship that is India-focused, there are many elements that really have no reference to India. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is one of them.