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‘Sour’ moments in ‘sweeter’ China-Pakistan relations

Although, normally we see a very cooperative and supportive relationship between China and Pakistan. But right now, their bond is displaying all the red flags of a toxic relationship, growing worse by the minute.
The world currently bears witness to a mutual dependence between two unequal countries. On one hand, forsaken China is holding on to a faltering Pakistan as the former is being forced to accept the fact that its bullying has failed to forge any new friends. On the other hand, China is constantly dumping its money through unprofitable transactions in Pakistan that has a history of poor credentials in the policy.
Pakistan has constantly been on its toes, dancing to the tunes of its modern-day colonizer, China. Pakistan’s appeasement policies clearly point out to a steady flow of its alienation from the rest of the international world, with an exception to Turkey, in a bid to prolong its relationship with China. A major chunk of this appeasement is in the courts of the highly anticipated China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that has etched its way through China’s false promise of improvement of local infrastructure, livelihood, economy, and social development.
The $80 billion project, originally estimated at $46 billion, is part of the modern Silk Route initiative that aims at upgrading infrastructure, energy projects, transportation networks, and special economic zones (SEZs). There has been a crackdown by the Pakistani military on all critics of the CPEC, particularly with those from Gilgit-Baltistan and Baluchistan. Pakistan has used its anti-terror laws to silence these persons to avoid antagonizing the CCP-led government.
The bitter truth for Pakistan is that China has no interest in Pakistan’s development. China is upholding the façade of friendship with Pakistan to reap benefits, such as connectivity through the Gwadar port to the Arabian Sea. The CPEC has been rightly labelled as being a ‘trillion-dollar blunder’ by several experts. The project has put Pakistan in a labyrinth with no escape route. With China as its Minotaur, it will have to face the consequences of Chinese debt-trap.
Pakistan has been gullible and reckless with its desperation to find a counterweight for its archnemesis – India. This mistake has been profited upon by China that has already captured Pakistani markets by flooding cheap imports, rapid deindustrialization of Pakistan, and binding it through highly inflated loans and projects which Pakistan’s crumbling economy cannot host. China has also slyly pumped in more than 15,000 Chinese workers for the CPEC project.
However, the card has been played and all that Pakistan can do now is to pray that some benefit can be reaped out of the CPEC. A Pakistani official was even quoted saying that he firmly believes in China’s magnanimity and when the time comes, the ‘Iron Brother’ would write-off major portions of the loans that it has generously given out.
Pakistan is said to be renegotiating repayment obligations for CPEC. Even to the untrained eye, it is not so gruelling to understand how China has spun a sappy web for Pakistan to be used as a leverage point. It has been reported that it was China that forced Pakistan into trying to annex the disputed Gilgit Baltistan region in contravention to international laws. China’s colonization of Pakistan is in progress. Pakistan has already pawned away its crucial resources over strategic and economic incentives that might not even come to fruition.
Still, Pakistan continues its aggressive shots at pleasing China as it turns a blind eye to the major human rights violations in China. Pakistan has also supported the despicable Hong Kong National Security Law. What makes this bootlicking worse is that the Pakistani government is completely fine with the sacrifice of its own citizens for the profit of some thousand Yuan.
During the pandemic, Prime Minister Imran Khan refused to rescue his citizens and instead showed solidarity with China by declining the existence of the virus, at first, and then going on to downplaying the actual number of cases in the country. Close to 1,300 Pakistani students were left stranded in the Hubei Province, China.
In this Sino-Pakistani affair, the most vulnerable to a conflict are Pakistani minorities and those belonging to economically weaker families. Human trafficking is rife with close to 20,000 women being sold off as brides to China’s female-deficient population only to be raped, tortured and forced to engage in prostitution in mainland China. The 35-year long ‘One Child Policy’ in China, as well as the gender-selective abortions, led to a high male-to-female ratio. Pakistani women have a meagre chance of returning to their families back home in Pakistan as Pakistani authorities themselves are engaged in the trafficking rackets. Pakistani authorities themselves shut down any investigations or police enquiries of this horrendous trade as this would most definitely sour relations with China.
China’s proclivity for the disregard of human rights is blatant. Debt-trapped nations like Pakistan can only provide more material for its fetishes. It is about time that China’s actions be accounted for. Although at present, Pakistan is all warm and safe in the dragon’s pocket, it is only a matter of time before China reveals its ulterior motives to the detriment of Pakistan.

Atul Sangar

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