China in Pakistan: Major Power Mojo

Chinese involvement to help Pakistan in its counterinsurgency efforts makes perfect sense. The relationship between the two countries was the reason we included China in last fall’s WPR feature issue, The Asian Triangle. At the time, with the “regional solution” still focusing on India-Pakistan, the idea didn’t yet have so much public traction. Indeed, the issue appeared days after the Mumbai attacks, which drilled the focus down even further on the two South Asian neighbors.

But China’s partnership with Pakistan and rivalry with India is a major aspect of the South Asian equation. And for reasons that Arif Rafiq made clear in his article, “Pakistan’s Search for Stability,” the role that the U.S. has taken upon itself in Pakistan might be better played by China.

What’s surprising, though, and encouraging, is to see the Obama administration willingly involve China in an influence-enhancing role in the broader security interests of the region. That’s great statesmanship, because it not only creates the space for a cooperative, non-adversarial role for China. It steers Beijing into it. It will be very interesting to see whether the Chinese are willing to grow into that role, which represents the responsibility that comes with increased power.

This is Middle Power Mojo ®, writ large. Call it Major Power Mojo ®.