Pakistan-China Relations: Beyond CPEC

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Abstract

In recent years between 2013-18, Pakistan-China relations witnessed a qualitative transformation as the bilateral ties expanded from defence to the economic sphere. The cooperation under the framework of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is increasing Chinese investments in Pakistan’s energy and infrastructure sectors. Expanding avenues of bilateral cooperation has led to emergence of new dynamics in the bilateral relations. With increased inter-dependence, both countries are also navigating major power international politics. Beijing and Islamabad have increased their coordination for peace and stability in Afghanistan as well as at the multilateral forums including the United Nations (UN) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Traditional strategic cooperation is deepening to meet new geo-strategic challenges. Beyond CPEC, closer strategic engagement will determine the future direction of bilateral relations. Thus, it is crucial to take stock of the evolving geo-political dynamics and their impact on strategic dimensions of the bilateral relations. This paper aims to move forward from this standpoint and seeks to explore what developments have taken place in bilateral relations beyond CPEC during past five years (2013-2018). Most crucially, it explores how Pakistan-China relations have evolved in an era of geo-political tensions. It analyses how CPEC dynamics have influenced the course of broader relationship. Similarly, the growing coordination of two countries at the multilateral forums is also explored as they attempt to navigate the major power politics.

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