Sunday, 7 January 2018

China is building military base in Pakistan

China Is Building Its Second Foreign Military Base In Pakistan Amid US Diplomatic Scandal


6 January, 2017


America’s declining influence in the Middle East and the Pacific Rim has been in hyperdrive this week following President Trump’s tweetstorm against Pakistan.
On New Year's day, Trump unleashed a series of tweets accusing  Pakistan of harboring terrorists, and went so far as to threaten cutting off the country’s financial aid. To make matters worse, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, also accused Pakistan of playing “a double game for years,” and said President Trump would withhold $225 million in aid to the country.

Trump’s tweetstorm did not impress the Pakistani government: in response, it announced that it would be evicting some 1.4 million Afghan refugees from the country later this month. The Pakistani government also announced closer ties with China, and would ditch the dollar in bilateral trade with China, a move that has threatened Washington’s diplomatic relations with Pakistan.

And now, according to the Washington Times, Pakistan will further boost economic and defense ties between Beijing and Islamabad. The report specifies that China is planning to build a military base in Pakistan, which would be its second military base in the East. The naval installation will be erected in a key strategic location: the Pakistani town of Jiwani, a port near the Iranian border on the Gulf of Oman and near the Straits of Hormuz, which resides at one of the six proposed economic corridors of the One Belt One Road Initiative, commonly called the Silk Road Economic Belt.
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Plans for the base were advanced during a visit to Jiwani on Dec. 18 by a group of 16 Chinese People’s Liberation Army officers who met with about 10 Pakistani military officers. Jiwani is located on a peninsula about 15 miles long on a stretch of land with one small airfield.


China’s economic strategy in the Jiwani region of Pakistan is as follows:

Plans call for the Jiwani base to be a joint naval and air facility for Chinese forces, located a short distance up the coast from the Chinese-built commercial port facility at Gwadar, Pakistan. Both Gwadar and Jiwani are part of Pakistan’s western Baluchistan province.

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The large naval and air base will require the Pakistani government to relocate scores of residents living in the area. Plans call for their relocation to other areas of Jiwani or further inland in Baluchistan province.

The Chinese also asked the Pakistanis to undertake a major upgrade of Jiwani airport so the facility will be able to handle large Chinese military aircraft. Work on the airport improvements is expected to begin in July.

The naval base and airfield will occupy nearly the entire strategic peninsula.

Jiwani will be China’s second overseas military base, in addition to the first foreign military base opened last year in Djibouti, a small but tactically critical African nation near the Horn of Africa, where China deployed troops for the first time last July. In doing so, China has direct oversight and visibility of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea, which together with the Suez Canal and Strait of Hormuz, is one of the planet’s most important oil chokepoints.

Washington has called China’s foreign military base expansion the “string of pearls” strategy. Meanwhile, as the world grows fed up with Washington's overseas policies, the Chinese are using this opportunity to roll out military bases in the Persian Gulf through the Indian Ocean, and in South East Asia.


Harrison Akins, a researcher at the Howard Baker Center who focuses on Pakistan and China, told Newsweek, “Chinese investment in Pakistan is expected to reach over $46 billion by 2030 with the creation of a [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] connecting Balochistan’s Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea with Kashgar, in Western China.”

Trump will soon find that his ability to unilaterally exert pressure to promote U.S. policy and security abroad is severely limited, as Pakistan has increasingly relied upon China for economic and military assistance,” Akins added.

So as Pakistan pivots away from the US, both financially, diplomatically and militarily, China is happy to step in and fill all the voids.

Total direct investment in Pakistan, 2017:

China: $837 million
US: $42 million
And so, America’s fading influence has claimed its latest victim, Pakistan. In one week, President Trump and Niki Haley have managed to collapse the bilateral relations between Pakistan and the United States, which has spurred China to pick up the broken piece and start nation-building in Pakistan. And as China tastes diplomatic success, the same blueprint will soon be applied to all other "US-allied" nations in the region.

Pakistan Ditches Dollar In Trade With China In Retaliation For Trump Twitter Meltdown


4 January, 2015

Less than a day after President Trump slammed Pakistan on Twitter for failure to combat terrorism, stating, "It's not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others," and after it was revealed that the US will withhold $255 million in aid, Pakistan's central bank announced it will be replacing the dollar with the yuan for bilateral trade and investment with China. 

"SBP has already put in place the required regulatory framework which facilitates use of CNY in trade and investment transactions," the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said in a press release late Tuesday, ensuring that imports, exports and financing transactions can be denominated in the Chinese currency.

"The SBP, in the capacity of the policy maker of financial and currency markets, has taken comprehensive policy related measures to ensure that imports, exports and financing transactions can be denominated in yuan," Dawn news, Pakistan's most widely read English-language daily, announced while quoting the SBP press release.

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Image source: WION News

As we reported in December, Pakistan has been contemplating the move since last month's formal launch of the Long Term Plan for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), signed by the two sides on November 21. The CPEC is a flagship project of China's Belt and Road initiative - the 3,000 km, over $50 billion corridor which stretches from Kashgar in western China to Gwadar port in Pakistan on the Arabian sea.

At that time the agreement was signed Pakistan's Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said that while Pakistani currency would be used within the country, China desired that bilateral trade should take place in yuan instead of dollars, in yet another push to de-dollarize what China considers its sphere of influence. "We are examining the use of yuan instead of the US dollar for trade between the two countries," Iqbal said in what was the earliest tip-off of this week's bombshell news, and added that the use of yuan was not against the interest of Pakistan. Rather, it would "benefit" Pakistan.

But the timing couldn't be more interesting, with the White House's rhetoric on Pakistan putting the longtime and now increasingly strained defense alliance between the US and central Asian country center stage. Less than two weeks after China and Pakistan launched their CPEC initiative, Trump said in a New Year's Day tweet, "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!

In response to the tweet the chairman of Pakistan's Senate Defense Committee fired back, calling Trump the "mercurial leader of a declining superpower" while accusing him of merely "raving and ranting." Trump has broken ranks with prior administrations going back to the Cold War - who have taken great care to maintain a positive though uneasy status quo with the nuclear power - and in brazen tone called out Pakistani authorities for looking the other way on terrorism, especially regarding their long acknowledged support to the Taliban and toleration of jihadist groups along the pashtun tribal lands Af-Pak border border like the Haqqani network. Ironically, however, Pakistan's ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) and the CIA were once in the same trenches when it came to supporting mujahideen fighters the region throughout the 1980's.


Pakistan has long been forced to rely on an external patron as the ultimate guarantor of its security vis-à-vis India and in recognition of the international legitimacy of its disputed borders (foremost being the Durand Line), bouncing back and forth between either China or the United States. 

But clearly the latest tensions as well as US plan to cut foreign aid, precipitated in the US administration's eyes by Pakistan being among an expansive list of US aid recipients that voted to support the December 22 UN resolution condemning the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, have not only created a vacuum in terms of waning US influence in the region, but have allowed China to cement itself as both economic and political guarantor in the region. 


Notably, on the same day Trump accused Pakistan of giving "safe haven to the terrorists" Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang immediately came to Islamabad's defense, saying the country "made great efforts and sacrifices for combating terrorism" and urged the international community to "fully recognize this."


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