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Pakistan - China Ties

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1 Pakistan - China Ties on Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:51 pm

China believes that the United States will not mount serious resistance to its plan to build two nuclear reactors in Pakistan, notes a prestigious US think tank.

On the occasion of President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Beijing, the Council on Foreign Relations published an interview with an American expert on Pakistan-China relations, Andrew Small of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

“The Chinese also believe that Washington needs Beijing’s support on issues such as Iran at the moment and will be unwilling to mount serious resistance to the deal,” observes Mr Small.

“Moreover, in private, Chinese analysts are quite clear that this is a strategic tit-for-tat (in response to US-India nuclear deal).”

Mr Small points out that the Chinese appear willing to ignore the guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and claim that the deal was part of the exemption for prior Sino-Pak civil nuclear cooperation – the power plants Chashma 1 and 2, which were ‘grandfathered’ as conditions of China’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

“Beijing has been testing the water to see how other countries – and particularly the United States – react, but so far seems to think that it won’t encounter serious pushback,” he said.

“There is little appetite in Beijing for going through the sort of process that the United States undertook at the NSG for the India deal.”

Mr Small notes that the United States has expressed concern in the past, “but official reaction to the actual conclusion of the deal has been relatively muted, and many in China think it will stay that way”.

Meanwhile, the US media quoted Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Masood Khan as saying that the issues relating to nuclear plants were on the agenda of Mr Zardari’s talks with the Chinese leaders.

The news about China’s plans to build nuclear reactors for Pakistan was first carried by ‘China National Nuclear Corporation’ on its website in March this year.

China notified the Nuclear Suppliers Group about its plan in this regard last month. India, however, conveyed serious concerns to China over the deal.

Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon has said that the Chinese leaders have assured him that the reactors would be built under international obligations. India will “wait and see” how Beijing goes about it, said Mr Menon who ended a four-day visit to Beijing on Tuesday.

Rail link: The US also media noted that China plans to build a rail link across the Karakoram into Pakistan through the Gilgit-Baltistan region.

The line running nearly 700 km from Kashgar in Xinjiang province to Havelian near Rawalpindi through the Khunjerab Pass, will transform the geopolitics of western China and the subcontinent, the reports noted.

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