China has praised Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to India. This praise seems to fall in line with China’s recent claim that it would stand by Pakistan ‘in all circumstances.’ Xinhua reported that the meeting between Pakistan and India will help bring stability to the region, according to a report in the Hindustan Times:
“Better ties between Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed heavyweight neighbours on the South Asian subcontinent, will benefit both countries and regional stability,” a commentary by state-run Xinhua news agency said.
“The two countries’ efforts in warming up their ties certainly are welcomed and applauded by the international community including China, which neighbours both nations and maintains significant ties with them,” it said.
Noting that Pakistan’s decision to phase out major restrictions on Indian imports by the end of the year, it said “better bilateral ties will undoubtedly boost their economies and may help bring down their defence expenditures, bringing tangible benefits to the two countries and peoples”.
“China wants to further boost ties with both countries, and is happy to witness continuous improvement of the Pakistan-India ties,” it said.
According to the Times of India, during the bilateral meeting, India and Pakistan agreed to adopt the India-China model, which focuses on increased trade, to develop the nations’ relationship:
At the lunch, Zardari told Manmohan Singh that India and China have many differences, but their trade ties are going up, said government sources. Zardari indicated, said sources, that that the India-China model could help improve the relations between India and Pakistan as well.
India has been pitching for the India-China model in talks with Pakistani interlocutors for a long time, a model endorsed by Beijing, but Islamabad had not responded enthusiastically as its political establishment saw Kashmir as the “core issue” that needed to be resolved before trade normalisation can take place.
But in the past few months, with Pakistan moving in the direction of granting India the Most Favoured Nation status, the Kashmir-first-and-trade-later equation has been reversed in favour of simultaneously pursuing both trade and discussions on the contentious Kashmir issue, over which the two nations have fought three wars.
The India-China model, said sources, could be a potential game-changer in the accident-prone India-Pakistan relationship as it envisages a pragmatic approach to keep working at enhancing economic ties that benefits both countries while taking a long-strategic range view to resolve complex outstanding issues like Kashmir.
See more on China-India relations via CDT.