There is a whiff of opportunism to the four-day visit of Pakistan’s prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, coming as it does when Pakistanis are turning even more angry at America in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s killing and Americans are turning even more angry at Pakistan for mirror-image reasons.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan. Pakistan certainly wants to boost its bilateral ties with China and Beijing is unlikely to do anything to cloud Islamabad’s view of it as as an “all-weather friend”. China is already helping Pakistan develop its nuclear energy program and communications infrastructure. It is also selling Pakistan arms and military equipment.
However, none of that is sufficient to let Pakistan ditch its economic and military reliance on the U.S. ($3 billion in 2012). Nor would Beijing necessarily want that. Pakistan is not sufficient a prize to compensate for the damage that would do to China’s more important relations with the U.S. and India.