Book Review–Nothing Comes without Conditions: China’s Relationship with Pakistan
In one of the many revealing anecdotes in Andrew Small’s new book on the relationship between China and Pakistan, a Chinese expert describes worries about the Islamization of the Pakistan Army. “We’re not worried about the generals, we’re worried the brigadiers,” the Chinese expert says. The generals were old enough to have established their habits by the time military ruler Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq seized power in a coup in 1977 and promoted a militant strain of Islam in the country and its army. “They drink, they send their children to study in the United States or Great Britain. The younger ones are sending their children to study in the Gulf.”
The comments highlight an often-overlooked ambivalence in China’s attitude to Pakistan. Though Beijing has always been willing to use Pakistan to counter India, its support is conditional. Like the United States and India, China worries about the threat posed by the rise of violent Islamism to the outside world and to Pakistan itself. That makes it a potential ally in helping to stabilize Pakistan. As Washington and New Delhi forge ever closer ties—highlighted by President Barack Obama’s visit to India—they will need careful diplomacy to avoid alienating China with talk of containing it and instead seek to enlist its help.
Read the full review by Myra MacDonald of War On The Rocks here.