China's Kashmir Policy and Its Regional Implications
Paper presented at conference on Asian Powers in Kashmir, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) for Defense and Security Studies, London, 25 January 2011.
Recent developments in Sino-Indian relationship suggest a noticeable shift in China’s approach to the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. Beijing seems to be abandoning a policy of neutrality on Kashmir adopted since the start of the 80s, whereby it simply urged the two countries to bilaterally settle the issue. In its place, China appears to revert to its traditional stand on Kashmir in vogue during the 50s and 60s, which was vocally supportive of Pakistani position on Kashmir and the Kashmiri quest for self-determination. More importantly, contrary to its generally cautious foreign policy approach, China has started to adopt tangible steps depicting its intention to play a proactive role vis-à-vis the Kashmir dispute. The proactive Chinese role in Kashmir can also be articulated in moralistic terms. For the rest of the international community, including the United States, has so far paid only lip service to the Kashmiri cause. The Chinese at least deserve the credit for attempting to emphasise Kashmir’s continuingly disputed nature and, by default, highlighting the need to resolve it urgently. There is also no moral or rational justification to question China’s investment and development activities in Azad Jammu and Kashmir as well as Gilgit-Baltistan. Just as Pakistan could not wait forever not to grant the due political rights to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, neither China nor Pakistan can afford to put on permanent hold their respective quest for energy, while letting India continue playing delaying tactics on Kashmir resolution along with a game of death with the people of Kashmir. Full Text