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It might be an 'all-weather ally' of Pakistan, but China is not prepared to treat India as an enemy as it would never want to jeopardise its whopping $60 billion trade with the country, eminent Pakistani author and watcher of the region, Ahmed Rashid, says in his new book.
Economic considerations mean that Pakistan can no longer rely on China for full or "unconditional support" to it against India, says Rashid, in his forthcoming book, 'Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan and Afghanistan' that is slated to hit the stands on March 19.
"China wants a strategic relationship with Pakistan to balance a rising India, and Pakistan has shown a willingness to provide it.
"But China is not prepared to treat India as an enemy, as Pakistan wants it to; rather, China wants the two countries to live in peace, not in a state of proxy war," Rashid writes.
In his latest book running into more than 230 pages, Rashid says that once upon a time, China strongly supported Pakistan's position on Kashmir, but since the mid-1990s it is no longer the case.
"China has a massive $60 billion trade and business relationship with India, which it envisages will rise, six fold in the next ten years. China will not forsake that by throwing its support wholly and unconditionally to Pakistan," he says.
Many Pakistanis, he says, believe that if its relations with the United States finally break down, the lost economic aid can be replaced by China.
China is geographically close to Pakistan; it has in the past funded some major infrastructure projects, such as dams, ports, and roads; it has helped substantially with Pakistan's nuclear weapons and nuclear energy programmes; and it has provided the military with several billion dollars' worth of heavy weapons at cut-rate prices -- tanks, ships, submarines, and fighter aircraft.