A day before President Trump’s impulsive rant against all his domestic enemies, real and perceived, he gave an uncharacteristically scripted speech on the war in Afghanistan that was short on details but directed specific criticism at one South Asian country: Pakistan.
Trump said in his speech that “for its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror,” and pledged to utilize relations with India and Afghanistan — as well as, of course, Trump’s favorite policy tool of threatening bilateral trade relations — to bear down on Pakistan.
China considers Pakistan to be one of its closest allies, and as Reuters reports, immediately went to work to defend it from criticism. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson contradicted Trump, saying, “We believe that the international community should fully recognize Pakistan’s anti-terrorism.”
The defense is not entirely political, however. China and Pakistan benefit from a very substantial economic cooperation package called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a network of infrastructure and loans that the Wall Street Journal says (paywall) is now worth $55 billion.
The Journal notes that “analysts said the new pressure on Pakistan will deepen Islamabad’s partnership with China,” largely because of the possible impacts the United States could have on the CPEC.
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