Chinese diplomacy has been making headlines recently, from its involvement in the Middle East to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. With China’s presence continuing to expand in these regions, is Kashmir the next target for the Global Peace Broker?
Xi Jinping, the most powerful president in the history of modern China, has been in news headlines by winning the presidency for the third time. However, the more important news is to play a leading role in the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two staunchly opposed countries of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Iran. There was a time when Saudi Arabia and the Shah of Iran were considered twin pillars in the region under the Nixon Doctrine. Both countries used to look after US interests in the region. However, time changed and Imam Khomeini launched a revolution in Iran and very soon Iran emerged as an anti-American enemy.
Ideologically, Iran and Saudi Arabia are two Islamic countries that are having tussle with each other for a long time. Due to the bilateral tensions, the diplomatic ties had also been disrupted. Recently, the two countries have surprised the world by announcing the restoration of relations. On this occasion, the Chinese Foreign Minister was also present as a guarantor. According to the American newspaper Wall Street Journal, China has decided to mediate in Ukraine and Russia after the successful diplomacy between Iran and Saudi Arabia. If this process continues, China’s next choice may be Kashmir.
After the restoration of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the Chinese President’s next priority is Russia, where he will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. In this regard, speculations are being made in the world media that China is now willing to play the role of mediator between Russia and Ukraine. According to international analysts, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine must be seen in the context of cold war between the Soviet bloc and the Western bloc led by the United States after the World War II.
During the Cold War, the formation of the military alliance NATO was intended to curb Russia’s expansionist ambitions. Then the Soviet Union fell apart, but NATO remained functional in the region. Ukraine’s desire to join the NATO forced Russia to declare war on the former Soviet state. Today, one year has passed since the Russia-Ukraine war, but neither Russia has won a complete victory over Ukraine, nor NATO and Western countries have come forward to help Ukraine. In such circumstances, the visit of the Chinese President to Russia reflects the fact that China is now ready to play a serious role in the ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine in the best interest of region.
If China leads to a new breakthrough by bringing Russia and Ukraine closer, will its next stop be to solve the long-standing problem of Kashmir in South Asia? In this regard, international analysts are commenting in their own way. Some are hopeful as they believe that in the context of the changing global situation, it is not possible for China to play a peaceful role on global issues and ignore the serious conflict in its neighbourhood. According to them, the real strength of Chinese achievements is the growing influence in the fields of economy and business. If China is India’s major trading partner on the one hand, on the other hand China is also investing heavily in Pakistan under the CPEC project.
That’s why; global analysts are of the view that sooner or later, China will have to turn its attention to the long-standing issue of Kashmir in South Asia. However, China’s potential peace efforts for the Kashmir conflict are likely to prove more difficult and complicated than the Saudi Arabia-Iran peace deal and the potential Ukraine ceasefire. The main reason for this is that China is not only a neighbour of Pakistan and India, but also controls a large part of Kashmir. Some analysts believe that China’s role as a mediator in the region is pointless in the sense that China itself is a direct party to the conflict.
Interestingly, China is controlling the region of Aksai Chin as part of Xinjiang, Tibet and adjourning provincial areas. However, India claimed it as part of its Leh District, Ladakh Union Territory. Due to its geo-strategic position as the eastern portion of the Kashmir region, it has been a subject of dispute between India and China since the late 1950s. In 2020, an armed conflict between armies of both countries was also occurred, in which causalities from both sides were reported. Similarly, the megaproject Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project enters into Pakistan through Gilgit-Baltistan, the territory administered by Pakistan but disputed according to India. China’s friendliest ties with Pakistan may also a factor of mistrust and non-acceptability by India to allow Chinese leadership to bring any kind of peace deal.
Despite this, tensions between the two countries remain high, with military action taking place from both sides. In 2019, India revoked Article 370 of its constitution that granted autonomy to Kashmir, further escalating tensions. The current situation in Kashmir is one of stalemate, as neither India nor Pakistan appears willing to back down or compromise. With the involvement of China, it has been suggested that diplomatic solutions could be sought in order to bring about a lasting peace.
Undoubtedly, with the speed with which China’s BRI project is gaining wide acceptance at a larger scale, it is unlikely that India will remain not interested for long. The leadership of Indian held Kashmir itself, including Mehbooba Mufti, considers the CPEC project pivotal for the prosperity of Kashmir. It will really be good if Kashmir issue resolved peacefully as it is a major obstacle of peace, progress and cooperation in the region since last seven decades.
China has long had an interest in the region of Kashmir, primarily because it borders both with India and Pakistan. China has traditionally held strong ties with both countries, and has provided diplomatic and economic assistance to both. The Chinese government has been a vocal supporter of Kashmir’s independence, and has actively sought to broker peace between India and Pakistan on the matter.
In recent years, China has taken a more active role in the Kashmir dispute, pushing for dialogue and negotiations between the two sides. China has also stepped up its economic assistance to both countries, providing financial aid, investment, and infrastructure support. China is also a member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), making it a crucial player in any potential international mediation effort in Kashmir.
The Chinese government has encouraged the two countries to move towards a peaceful resolution of their differences, and has expressed a willingness to help facilitate talks. China has recently helped mediate agreements between Iran and Saudi Arabia on regional issues, suggesting that it may also be able to help resolve the conflict in Kashmir. While no specific steps have been taken as yet, Chinese diplomatic pressure could play an important role in bringing about a resolution to the dispute.
The situation in Kashmir is of great interest to China, as it is a close neighbor of Pakistan and India, both of whom have a long history of tensions over the region. While China has traditionally been seen as having a neutral stance in the Kashmir conflict, recent developments suggest that it may be ready to take a more active role in the region.
It is also possible that China could take a more direct role in the Kashmir conflict by sending troops or advisers. This could involve training local forces on both sides, and helping to maintain a ceasefire between the two countries. This type of involvement would be highly controversial, but could ultimately be beneficial if it helps to bring peace to the region.
Since then, India and Pakistan have made little progress towards resolving the dispute, though both sides have expressed a willingness to negotiate. With tensions escalating, some have called on China to help mediate a solution.
Whether or not China will be able to facilitate a resolution to the Kashmir dispute remains to be seen. However, given China’s success in mediating other disputes, there is hope that it could help bring about a peaceful resolution to this long-standing conflict. But, only time will tell if China’s diplomatic efforts in the region can bear fruit, let’s hope for the best.
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