Chinese influence can be seen in every sphere of Pakistan’s governance and culture.
Here is our list of 6 of them:
1. Chinese influence in language
False report of Pakistani Senate approving a motion to declare Mandarin as one of the official languages of Pakistan is doing the rounds for the last 3 days. Further stating that the relationship between Islamabad and Beijing would deepen further and help the people connected with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor communicate easily with this move. Pakistan’s Chinese mania is not hidden, as a little China Town is mushrooming in all cities of Pakistan. Therefore, this proposal seems to be coming if not today then tomorrow keeping in view the Chinese influx in all sectors of Pakistan.
However, this news was played up; sparking numerous debates. Few in favour with the rest looking at it as a very bold step by Pakistan (which is akin to threatening rather eclipsing its identity in times to come). This can be suitably argued as in a short span of 70 years, Pakistan has flirted with promoting four languages that were not the mother tongue of many people in the country-English, Urdu, Arabic & now Chinese. Surprisingly Punjabi (which is widely spoken in the Punjab province of Pakistan), Pashto; and many other native languages have not been declared official languages of the country.
2. Chinese influence in currency
Earlier Pakistan had turned down China’s demand to allow its currency to be used in the Gwadar Free Zone under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor framework, arguing any such move would compromise its ‘economic sovereignty’. However, China made it amply clear about its egoistic urgency to have an economic influence over the USA. Priority for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) termed as the “flagship” project of ‘One Belt, One Road (OBOR)’ initiative, assumes far more important for China, as the total cost of the project amounts to $62billion from the initial estimate of $46billion. One wonders that if that is the case, what made Pakistan take the initiative?
3. Chinese influence in education
When the Chinese department at NUML was first opened in September 1970, there were only two Chinese teachers and 13 students. This number has now swelled to dozens of teachers and almost 2,000 students, according to the department. This year alone, 1460 students have been admitted into the programme.The growing interest in the language has led to some Mandarin centres mushrooming in Pakistan’s major cities. In Islamabad alone, many prominent schools and institutes including NUST, COMSATS, Headstart School, City School, Beaconhouse School and Roots School are teaching the Chinese language.
4. Chinese influence in media
In May 2017, the first-ever Chinese language weekly newspaper ‘Guashang’ was launched in Pakistan along with its English version. The newspaper which has its head office located in Islamabad is aimed at the Chinese community in Pakistan. There are some 400,000 Chinese nationals living in Pakistan and around 25,000 of them reside in Islamabad. This newspaper is a big hit among Chinese as well as Pakistanis. Cultural exchange programmes and celebrations to mark the Chinese New Year festival in Pakistan have further instilled the love of the language in recent years.
5. Chinese influence in economy
CPEC has lured Pakistan in a big way, but the fact that Chinese are bringing their own to carry out these projects (right from engineers to labours) have left majority of the Pakistani’s high and dry. To please the Chinese, atrocities on own people have been carried out, many who tried fighting for their rights were either wiped out or have gone missing as they were seen as a threat to CPEC by own government and Army. Continuous imports in the name of CPEC from China whose value has increased by 30% in the last two years have also become a burden as there is no export recovery in sight for Pakistan industry. Thus, leading Pakistan economy to Abyss.
Other than this a Special Security Division (SSD) comprising 9,000 Pakistan Army soldiers and 6,000 para-military forces personnel has been set up for protecting Chinese workers and projects under CPEC. The cost of raising the SSD was Rs0.5 billion and it took a year to be raised. The government has also allocated Rs1.3 billion for CPEC security in addition to the efforts of provincial governments.
Chinese troops will also be allowed to position in Pakistan to protect the 3,000-km-long CPEC that connects the Gwadar Port in Balochistan to China’s Xinjiang region.
Learning a new language is productive and would do no harm. But letting Chinese influence to grow in each sector (economic, defense, infrastructure, educational social, cultural, religious) and turn Pakistan into a China Town is creating an undercurrent which is often reported but quietly curbed by the officials. Frequent reports in this regard like-
- An increase in Chinese-Pakistani marriages
- The presence of Chinese missionaries in Pakistan
- Chinese outsourcing intelligentsia from Pakistan
- Grand celebration of Chinese new year in Pakistan, surface from time to time but are usually curbed for vested interests.
Pakistan should not forget that China is a capitalist country when it comes to dealing with other countries and towards their own people act as a communist country. They are ruthless and only think business. For them the national goal is supreme. Doklam is a fine example of the same. The Chinese once again did not mince their words when leaving out Pakistan to defend itself in UNGA when India attacked Pakistan on its outlook on terror.
In return for full cooperation with China in CPEC and surrendering its defence completely, the only thing that Pakistanis got are debt overburden and a cunning friend. As far as Military Research and Developmental help given, Chinese are dolling out only those outdated technologies which they have already discarded.
But with the US-Pakistan relation hitting an all-time low and the growing Pakistan-China cultural relations, economic cooperation, and presence of Chinese companies in Pakistan; has not left Pakistan with too many options but to look towards China for their sustenance. Turning into an economic slave was by choice, however, it will be interesting to see that what follows after currency & language, most likely the communist/dictatorship culture would seep into the cracking Pakistani democracy.
29 Dec 18/Saturday. Written by Afsana