Journal Article - Yale Journal of International Affairs

China and Pakistan: Fair-Weather Friends

| March 2012


Two assumptions dominate current debates on US foreign policy toward Pakistan. First, Pakistan shares a robust "all-weather" friendship with China centered on core national interests. Second, Pakistan's ability to turn to China in times of need insulates it from US pressure and renders hardline US policies counterproductive. Both of these assumptions are mistaken. First, China and Pakistan do not share a robust partnership; they engage in limited cooperation on a narrow set of interests, and these interests have been diminishing over time. Second, China will not take active measures to protect Pakistan from US pressure. As a result, the United States can impose punitive measures on Pakistan without fear of catalyzing an anti-American Sino-Pakistani alliance.

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The research for this study was sponsored by Project Air Force at the RAND Corporation. The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the policies or positions of the RAND Corporation or the U.S. Air Force. The author wishes to thank Andrew Scobell for comments on earlier versions.

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For Academic Citation: Beckley, Michael. China and Pakistan: Fair-Weather Friends.” Yale Journal of International Affairs, vol. VII. no. 1. (March 2012):

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