Fair. Balanced. American.

Friday, May 20, 2011

And there it is

Only took two weeks:
China has agreed to immediately provide 50 JF-17 fighter jets to Pakistan, a major outcome of a visit by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to Beijing this week, Pakistani officials said Thursday.

China and Pakistan have jointly produced the JF-17 aircraft, but the new planes would be equipped with more sophisticated avionics, the officials said. The latest jet fighters would be paid for by China, they said. [...]

Mr. Gilani’s visit to Beijing served as a pointed reminder of Pakistani suggestions that the government might seek to recalibrate relations with the United States, using China to offset what many here view as an overdependence on Washington. [...]

Mr. Gilani’s four-day visit to China may help Pakistan as it tries to regain leverage with the United States. During his visit, Mr. Gilani met with Premier Wen Jiabao of China, who bolstered Pakistan by saying the United States should respect Pakistan’s sovereignty.

The news about the JF-17 aircraft is clearly a signal that Pakistan is shopping for alternatives to Washington, though the value of the deal may be more symbolic than decisive in terms of Pakistan’s military capacity.

Pakistani military officials have consistently complained that American aid, which they would nonetheless like to keep flowing, falls short on many essential military items that the Americans have been reluctant to offer.

The United States provides Pakistan with F-16 fighter jets to help the country match the air power of its archrival India, but Pakistani military officials have complained that their F-16 fleet is aging.

The deal is another sign that Pakistan’s relations with China are frequently far less encumbered than those with the United States, and that in many ways the interests of Pakistan and China coincide more easily.

The United States may be Pakistan’s largest benefactor, but China is Pakistan’s largest trading partner, and for years the Chinese have heavily invested in building a deep-water port in the Pakistani city of Gwadar.

China is often referred to as Pakistan’s “all-weather friend,” a contrast to the common depiction of its up-and-down relationship with the United States, which is deeply unpopular here.

The United States has invested in a special relationship with India. Both China and Pakistan, on the other hand, view India as a rival. They share an interest in containing India’s regional influence, particularly as the United States draws down its forces in Afghanistan, a process the Obama administration says it will start this summer.
As Nikki Finke says, "TOLDJA!"

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