THE Obama administration has appealed to China to provide training and even military equipment to help Pakistan counter a growing militant threat, US officials said, reports the Los Angeles Times. The proposal is part of a broad push by Washington to enlist key allies of Pakistan in the effort to stabilise the country. The US is seeking to persuade Islamabad to step up its efforts against militants, while supporting the fragile civilian government and the nations tottering economy. Richard Holbrooke, the Obama Administrations special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, has visited China and Saudi Arabia, another key ally, in recent weeks as part of the effort. The American appeal to China underscores the importance of Beijing in security issues. Washington considers China to be the most influential country for dealing with isolated, militaristic North Korea. Beijing also plays a crucial role in the international effort to pressure Iran over its nuclear programme. China traditionally has been reluctant to intervene in the affairs of other countries. However, Chinese officials are concerned about the militant threat near its western border, fearing it could destabilise the region and threaten Chinas growing economic presence in Pakistan. A senior US official acknowledged that China was hesitant to get more involved, but said, You can see that theyre thinking about it. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the subject. US officials believe China is skilled at counterinsurgency, a holdover of the knowledge gained during the countrys lengthy civil war that ended with a communist victory in 1949. And with its strong military ties to Pakistan, US officials hope China could help craft a more sophisticated strategy than Islamabads heavy-handed approach. The tide of displaced people could set off a backlash against the campaign among ordinary Pakistanis, many of whom already see the fight as driven by American, rather than Pakistani, interests. Chinas strategic alliance with Islamabad dates to the 1960s. Beijing has sold Pakistan billions of dollars worth of military equipment, including missiles, warships, and tanks. Pakistani officials in Washington acknowledged a lengthy alliance with China. Pakistan and China have a time-tested bilateral relationship and Chinese support and cooperation have been crucial for Pakistan at many difficult times in our history, said Husain Haqqani, Pakistans ambassador to the US. At this moment too, we continue to look to China as a trusted friend and partner while laying the foundations of a more enduring strategic relationship with the US Chinese officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Stephen Cohen, a South Asia specialist at the Brookings Institution, said China and Saudi Arabia wield more influence with Pakistan than does the United States. As a consultant to the US government, Cohen has urged American officials to try to enlist Beijings help. China can be a positive influence, he said. But he added that there may be divisions within the Chinese government, and that the Chinese military, despite close ties to the Pakistan Army, may be reluctant to intervene. Holbrooke, the US envoy, visited China on April 16, and officials of both countries said then that they had agreed to work together on Afghanistan and Pakistan. We came here to share views on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan because we share a common danger, a common challenge and a common goal, Holbrooke said at the time. Lisa Curtis, a former congressional analyst now at the Heritage Foundation, a think-tank, said it would be difficult to persuade China to assume any military role. But she said the Chinese are concerned about the spillover effects of the Pakistani insurgency. The Chinese may try to deal with this privately, she said. They wont want to make any public statements that might embarrass the Pakistanis.