China’s foreign policy under its new leadership will be defined by an age old, well thought out strategic vision. As a great believer of China’s “scientific outlook” vision, I was most encouraged to see this continuity element in the full text of  Resolution of the Eighteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China on the Revised Constitution of the Communist Party of China adopted at the Eighteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China on November 14, 2012: “The Scientific Outlook on Development is a scientific theory that is both in keeping with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents and is in step with the times.”

Of perhaps all the emerging powers, China’s sense of direction is least known for knee-jerk reactions and most known for a long-term view of the world. Something Pakistani foreign policy actors need to learn from. Today’s world in Chinese terminology is called “yichao duoqiang”, which sees the world as unipolar as well as multipolar simultaneously. It is seen as a transitory process towards multipolarity. It is in this realistic context that Chinese foreign policy interventions will be relevant to all of us.

This realistic acceptance is coupled with the theory of “shi”, which identifies the dominant power pole in the world order, and an assessment of whether the power configuration can bring any harm to China. From this derives the concept of following the general tendency, which will lead China higher in the power projections or “Shunshi erwei”. This process-oriented approach to foreign policy is unique to China and the new leadership is expected to make its first deliberations in the same light.

The last policy direction clearly spelt out by President Hu in 2009 is worth remembering at this stage: (i) profound transformation; (ii) a harmonious world; (iii) common development; (iv) shared responsibility; and (v) active engagement. The general direction going forward will be basically the same. However, keeping in view the current international priorities, there will be a pull and push at China for a role, which is more attune with its new economic leading world status. Many in China believe that it should lead more and incorporate “retribution and punishment” in its foreign policy narrative. Its involvement in “global governance” discourse will certainly be encouraged by the EU, since its leadership role will be sought on issues like climate change, nuclear proliferation coupled with a commitment to the MDG goals of the UN.

However, what is going to be watched most carefully going forward is whether there will be a more flexible approach to China’s “responsible stakeholder” role, which expects it to be more collaborative interventionist. China is unlikely to be pushed into any such misadventure by the West in its eagerness for asserting its global leadership role because it goes contradictory to its “shi” and identity.

The unique nature of Chinese foreign policy is built around its emphasis on “relations”, which are of a permanent nature. We in Pakistan take pride in our relations being as high as K-2 with China. This imagery is not just restricted to Pakistan. For China’s policymakers, “power and identity are both defined within the network of relations” for all its key bilateral relations.

China has used its “participatory development” model with the developing world to its tremendous advantage. Its “relations” are built on economic participation, which creates an interdependency that cannot be beaten by knee-jerk “aid and run” operations of other Western powers. China’s emphasis on building infrastructure and jointly exploiting natural resources for the developing world are its secret to success at building lasting relationships. I personally have been a witness to their commitment to 24/7 development in distant areas of Pakistan. Unlike Western countries, it has little interest in interfering in the domestic democratic credentials of any country for obvious reasons. As such, it expects the same when it comes to its own domestic policies. It jealously guards its territorial integrity. As a recent example of this, one can turn towards Chinese criticism of Japanese upper house resolution and patronage of the Dalai Lama.

In terms of China’s “responsible leader” role, it has demonstrated a balanced approach, as can be seen in its recent reactions towards the Syrian and Iranian crisis. For Syria, its four-point proposal “regarding ceasefire, end of violence and the implementation of political transition” is being welcomed as operable. Whilst for Iran, its belief in dialogue and cooperation is seen as an important balancing factor in the face of Western aggressive reaction. Its ability to draw all stakeholders into a communicative process is something Pakistan needs to mirror so that Iran’s isolation is reduced.

Similarly, Chinese commitment to Palestine and Kashmir remains unflinching as well. Only recently, it has expressed its commitment to the “two-state solution” with its firm support to peace talks being the only correct way to achieving this solution.  

On nuclear disarmament, its position is unique. China believes that nuclear disarmament should follow the principles of “maintaining global strategic stability” and “undiminished security for all.“ This has far-reaching implications, which are in line with the harmonious world approach that China preaches so convincingly.

Whilst China’s relations with the US remain the most crucial and difficult of all its strategic bilateral relations, these, perhaps, don’t have as much of an influence over China’s relations with the developing world. Pakistan’s relations, as mentioned in the earlier article, have to resolve the security and economic concerns that China has. The patience China has shown over the attacks on its nationals is unbelievable.

Pakistan must not make the task of our super-efficient Ambassador to China any more difficult by not solving these security concerns. Whilst we appreciate the work of the “Joint Economic Commission” of under-seeing the second Five Year Development Plan ending in 2016, we need to aim for being China’s top trading partner. This can only be accomplished with economic stability in Pakistan. However hard our missions try at achieving this feat, the state of the crumbling economy at home makes it impossible. Only a responsive and responsible government, which curtails corruption, can make these plans a reality. Chinese interest in infrastructural project partnerships has not been given the highest priority in the economic managers priority lists. Certain incidences of extortion in the water and road projects by Pakistani officials have mired this strategic relationship, which needs to be closer due to our strategic proximity.

All of this must be seen in a larger context. As younger leadership, we appreciate that the Chinese leadership’s belief in the “Scientific Outlook on Development” needs to be a shared objective in the Pak-China bilateral relations. Only when vision and mission is similar will the strategy be in coherence. There can be no disagreement on the fact that for development people need to come first; that income needs to increase for the majority of the people; that job opportunities need to increase; that unemployment needs to be reduced; that environment needs to be protected; that law and order needs to be maintained; and that education and culture needs to be advanced. There can also be no doubt that harmony is required between man and nature; between individual and other people; between the spiritual and the physical; and between current and future generations. We agree that the above “harmonious development” is the need of the region. It needs to be achieved by intertwining of economic and social interests between Pakistan and China.

With China’s continued emphasis on scientific outlook, we at the PML-N are cognisant of our responsibility to emphasise and encourage “collaborative intertwining”, as the new buzz word in Pakistan-China bilateral relations with a special focus on the following areas:

1-  Hydropower projects, including small         dams and run-of-the-river projects;

2-  North-South Trade Corridor for

    energy resource mobilisation;

3-  Coal and mining projects;

4-  Water treatment for waterworks;

5-  Agriculture cropping projects for

    diversification of export strategy;

6-  High-end technology and telecom

    joint venture collaborations;

7-  Clean drinking water filtration

    plants; and

8-  Youth collaborations to extend

    cultural, language and multimedia


As the great leader, Deng Xiaoping, said: “Unless you are confident of success, you can’t make proper policy decisions.” We are confident of success in our “collaborative intertwining” efforts of our two societies and we intend making proper policy decisions. In the final analysis, we look forward to a realisation of the real strategic relationship with China, which goes beyond how many times Pakistani leaders visit China. And which stresses the need for a shared 2030 development vision, which works beyond the fractured corrupt Pakistani institutions at fast track for our most treasured ally. We commit to “collaborative intertwining” of scientific outlook in Pakistan and China by keeping security and economic joint ventures as key priorities and leveraging on our “strategic proximity”.

The writer is a former parliamentarian. Email: