Accessibility links

Pakistani Leader Confers With Chinese Counterpart - 2002-08-02

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has conferred with his Chinese counterpart during a brief stopover in Beijing. Friday's meeting is seen as part of a campaign to strengthen relations between the traditional allies, amid tensions with India.

It was President Musharraf's third visit to Beijing since last December. Pakistani media report he had an hour-long meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin before flying home, following a previous stopover in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Musharraf is said to have briefed Mr. Jiang on tensions between Pakistan and India, as well as other regional issues.

Beijing has had a close relationship with Islamabad, dating back to China's border war with India in 1962. China has provided economic aid, as well as help with Pakistan's missile and nuclear weapons development.

But security analysts say that, since the September 11 terror attacks on the United States, Islamabad has leaned closer to Washington in the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

Taylor Fravel is an expert on China's international relations at Stanford University in California. "China's importance, in Pakistani eyes, probably decreased with the arrival of the U.S. in the war in Afghanistan," he says.

China has pledged its support for the American-led fight against terrorism, but it is uncomfortable with the U.S. military presence on its western borders. Mr. Fravel says Beijing may have used Mr. Musharraf's visit to help offset the growing American influence in Pakistan.

But, he says, Pakistan also needs to bolster ties with China, as long as tensions continue with nuclear rival India. "Musharraf might be seeking Chinese support vis-ŕ-vis India, especially given events in the last six months, where China did not seem to strongly support Pakistan, as it might have done in the past," he says.

Beijing has steadily improved its ties with New Delhi in recent years. It has called on both Pakistan and India to exercise restraint in their dispute over the Kashmir region.