INSIGHT: Why U.S., China Start a Relationship Using Pakistan as Bridge

“Very good question”, says former Pakistan’s Ambassador to Vietnam Mr. G. R. Baloch on why US and China start a relationship back in early 70s. His answer: “To keep China away from (the) Soviet block and transform it into a capitalist system. (However), little (did) they realize that the Chinese dragon has several heads. So Communist party grew a capitalist head and devoured the world“.

On the question why the two powers used Pakistan as go between (in secrecy), former Vice Chief of Naval Staff and ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, Adm. Hasham bin Saddiq says, “At that time, China was a mystery and a no no”. We had by far the best contact with them. The Chinese also saw as an opening to the world. “Strategic vision of Pakistani leaders at the time,” he points out.

He adds: “All big powers have back door channels to communicate”.

Dr. Syed Mahmud Ali, Adjunct Professor of China Studies at the University of Malaysia, tells DesPardes a message President Richard Nixon wrote out and handed to President Gen. Yahya Khan convinced Chinese PM Zhou Enlai ( the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China) in early November 1971 that the U.S. was serious. Earlier, Mr. Ali says China wasn’t serious. Prof. Ali says his 2005 book (US-China Cold War Collaboration, 1971-1989) mentions this.

This weekend, Mr. Ali (author of a 7-vol series on US-China relations) spoke at a webinar moderated from Australia by Imdadul Haque, a former Associate Professor of Economics. In that, Mr. also spoke on why and how U.S. and China start a relationship using Pakistan as a conduit. What is at stake in the battle between China and the United States in Pakistan “is the prize of global superpower status, according to US-based analyst Riaz Haq. the US-based Wall Street Journal. The American business publication produced a short video in 2018 explaining how its staff sees what it describes as “US-China conflict brewing in Pakistan”.

He also adds that Nixon had two related objectives linked to his presidency, and a more general, wider view about peace in the world.

“First, having inherited the bitterly divisive and expensive (in lives and treasure) Indochina war, Nixon had pledged to end the war ‘honorably’ and ‘bring the boys home’. Second, he knew that this would be impossible as long as DRV (Hanoi) enjoyed the support of both Moscow and Beijing. It would be a big help if either could be split from the other and brought on the US side. Moscow could not be brought on the US side, so China was the one possibility. In the big picture, Nixon also believed that 700-800 million Chinese people could not be left on the margins of the world-system, angry, sullen and fuming. They had to be somehow ‘brought in from the cold’. He wrote and spoke about it since 24th December 1953, but nobody listened until he became President”.

Mr. Ali, who is also a Southeast and South Asia specialist adds: As soon as he was elected and took office, he instructed Henry Kissinger (HK) to find a secret path of communicating to China because Nixon was determined to covertly reach out to Mao and Zhou. Any public knowledge of the initiative could have ruined his presidency – hence secret. HK first tried the periodic ambassadorial talks in Warsaw, but the Chinese envoy simply would not go beyond his very narrow, Korea-linked brief. HK then went to Paris which had some diplomatic links with China. US DA, Maj Gen Vernon Walters secretly met China (PRC) reps but Beijing did not bite. Next, Romania’s Ceasescu volunteered to carry messages, but Zhou did not trust him. Finally a message Nixon wrote out and handed to Pres. Gen. Yahya Khan convinced Zhou in early Nov 1971 that Nixon was serious. Yahya then instructed Foreign Secretary Sultan Ahmed Khan to brief Pakistani Ambassador Agha Shahi to act as the conduit between Washington D.C. and Islamabad, while Ambassador Khwaja Kaiser in Beijing brought messages from Zhou. Since other conduits were not trusted by PRC leaders, Pakistan became the only option, until Kissinger went to Beijing on July 9, 1971. For more read his book…