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US – China relationship under Trump administration and its impact on Pakistan

Javeria Farooqi
United States and China for decades have sustained unsmooth relations where China’s emphasizes on ‘One China’ Policy and US containment policy continued. With the change of leadership in US in 2016 it was believed that the Trump’s administration may take a stringent approach towards China however nothing happened as predicted, however this year 2017 the US-China relations as defined by the leaders emerged as on bilateral, cooperative and mutual respect while both leaderships look forwards towards other areas like trade, cyber crime etc. This change appears to be a step towards better relations amongst the two however what is important is that whatever the relations these two powers may have it would surely have an impact on Pakistan since US has been its ally while China is its long standing friend. The change in US-China relationship under Trump’s administration has been seen this year 2017 however this change is temporarily or there is genuine seriousness in this regard for which we may need to wait and see until the newly elected American government completes its tenure. It is notable that President Trump during his election campaign followed a hardline approach towards China and its activities however the President after meeting his Chinese counterpart Mr. Xi Jinping has significantly appreciated the two giant economies and have showed a relative more sensible and stabilized behaviour towards the rising power China. Although it appears to be an effort by the two countries to look beyond the usual conflict however what I believe is that since Trump is a professional businessman while Xi Jinping has more of an economic gain mindset this is why the first interaction amongst Trump and Xi during Mar-a-Lago summit in April 2017 went well due to alike brains. It has been seen that individual with a political mind would have a different response while dealing with issues at the international level/ system however a business minded individual would respond completely different with keeping both his personal and national interest together. Whatever US-China relationship turns to be, the most important factor is its impact that may have on Pakistan. Since the time of independence either it had been Western bloc or War on Terror, Pakistan has kept its US influenced foreign policy and has supported US interest however even after decades both counties have failed to get the confidence from each other. Their loyalties relies on the safeguard of their own national interests while the demand of ‘do more’ has considerably damaged the relationship, however Pakistan still couldn’t earn much respect abroad. On the other hand China emerged as a true and close friend of Pakistan since 60’s Indo-Sino War and have continued its support through thick and thin as both Pakistan and China’s common enemy is India where it has been witnessed that Chinese for their economic interests do not consider this enmity much. In 2011 the Abbottabad incident and Salala base attack placed Pakistan and US on the most unstable track where American threat of attacking Pakistan significantly increased however it was China that backed Pakistan and warned US by a strong statement that “Any attack on Pakistan would be considered as an attack on China”. Now with a historical background like this I believe that Pakistan is a country that is common between the two powers China and US and therefore whatever relations they may have among each other either negative or positive would surely have an impact on Pakistan. The Trump administration has so far kept its silence towards Pakistan while with China the emergence of cooperative and bilateral relationship emphasize on the economic dependencies of these stronger powers. If Americans stays cooperative with China they probably would not take a hardliner approach towards Pakistan however they would surely use China to influence Pakistan for actions to be taken against specific terrorists and Haqqani Network. Pakistan has always agreed to whatChinese have asked however the likelihood of Pak-China disagreement on certain issues cannot be ignored. Therefore whatever relations US-China may have itwould have an impact on Pakistan where Pakistan being the closest ally, friend of China may compromise its interest for the sustaining the back of second biggest economic country, CHINA.

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