Belfer Center Home > Publications > Academic Papers & Reports > Journal Articles > China and Pakistan: Fair-Weather Friends

EmailEmail   PrintPrint Bookmark and Share

"China and Pakistan: Fair-Weather Friends"

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao waved upon his arrival at Chaklala airbase in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on Dec. 17, 2010, for a rare visit that focused on expanding trade between the neighbors and longtime allies.
AP Photo

"China and Pakistan: Fair-Weather Friends"

Journal Article, Yale Journal of International Affairs, volume VII, issue 1, pages 9-22

March 2012

Author: Michael Beckley, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2011–2012

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security



Two assumptions dominate current debates on US foreign policy toward Pakistan. First, Pakistan shares a robust "all-weather" friendship with China centered on core national interests. Second, Pakistan's ability to turn to China in times of need insulates it from US pressure and renders hardline US policies counterproductive. Both of these assumptions are mistaken. First, China and Pakistan do not share a robust partnership; they engage in limited cooperation on a narrow set of interests, and these interests have been diminishing over time. Second, China will not take active measures to protect Pakistan from US pressure. As a result, the United States can impose punitive measures on Pakistan without fear of catalyzing an anti-American Sino-Pakistani alliance.


Read the entire article here:


The research for this study was sponsored by Project Air Force at the RAND Corporation. The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the policies or positions of the RAND Corporation or the U.S. Air Force. The author wishes to thank Andrew Scobell for comments on earlier versions.


For more information about this publication please contact the ISP Program Coordinator at 617-496-1981.

Full text of this publication is available at:

For Academic Citation:

Beckley, Michael. "China and Pakistan: Fair-Weather Friends." Yale Journal of International Affairs VII, no. 1 (March 2012): 9-22.

Bookmark and Share

Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.