When Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Pakistan this week, the reception was something to behold. The welcoming committee greeted him in midair, with eight Pakistani fighter jets in formation solemnly escorting the Chinese leader’s plane from the moment he crossed into Pakistani airspace.
It was one more dramatic element underscoring the significance of a visit during which both sides were remarkably unrestrained in their exuberance. Islamabad was dotted with photographs of Xi and signs proclaiming that “Pakistan-China friendship is higher than mountains, deeper than Oceans, sweeter than honey, and stronger than steel.” Xi reciprocated, declaring that he feels as if he is visiting “the home of my own brother.”
Those emotion-laden gestures for a foreign visitor are notable, but they are hardly unique. In recent months, we have witnessed similarly effusive moments during the visits of other heads of state in the region. South Asia is abuzz with high-stakes diplomatic activity involving the leaders of India, Russia, the United States and China. And the pace of diplomacy, along with the mountains of cash being discussed, shows no sign of diminishing.