Just 24 hours after President Trump took aim at Pakistan on Twitter, Pakistan’s Central Bank announced that it will be replacing the dollar with the Chinese yuan for bilateral trade and investment with Beijing.
The same day, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang defended Islamabad’s counter-terrorism track record, saying the country “made great efforts and sacrifices for combating terrorism” and urged the international community to “fully recognize this.”
China has been watching closely as US-Pakistan relations become increasingly strained. Trump has long demanded Pakistan do more on counter-terrorism while he simultaneously grew closer to its arch-rival, India.
Pakistan has been closely aligned with the US for many decades but there are signs that it could be gravitating towards the Chinese orbit. America and China are the first and second biggest economies and military powers in the world.
Islamabad is already home to one of Beijing’s central infrastructure schemes, a near $60 billion collection of land and sea projects known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
And with a steady stream of Chinese capital under its belt, Pakistan may no longer be receptive to American threats, the most recent of which involves Washington cutting off security assistance.
For Beijing’s part, a Monday editorial published by Chinese state-run news outlet Global Times said that “China and Pakistan enjoy an all-weather strategic partnership of cooperation, Beijing will without doubt not give up on Islamabad.”
However, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif recently dismissed Trump’s outburst as a political stunt and the two nations are expected to continue cooperating this year.
Ultimately, Washington needs Pakistani cooperation to address its concerns about Afghanistan and Iran and it remains to be seen if Trump’s social media tirade will translate into real policy change.