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When Hu meets Musharraf

When Hu Jintao finishes in India, he's going to move on to Pakistan. Below the cut is a quick summary of what he's going to be talking about with Musharraf.

Boats, trains and trucks

China is building a lot of infrastructure in Pakistan, with the two biggest projects being the Karakoram Highway and development of the port of Gwadar (see my earlier post. China needs these not so much to improve relations with Pakistan, but so they can conduct trade with, and ship oil from, Iran and Central Asia. Plus, a Chinese naval base at Gwadar would give them control over the Arabian sea.

Even though they're footing the bill for most of this, the Chinese are having to fight to keep some of these projects from being shelved. Gwadar in particular is under threat from the US, which pushed Pakistan to raise the amount of money they were demanding from China.

They'll also likely talk about various pipeline projects, an area where senior Chinese officials could act as useful go-betweens for the South Asian nations.

Guns and bombs

Then there's the military side. China has traditionally provided much of Pakistan's military equipment, including nuclear technology.

Since 9/11, Pakistan has found it much easier to buy weapons from the West. This makes them less dependent on the cheap, low-quality Chinese weaponry that was formerly a mainstay of their army. The Chinese delegation will need to convince Pakistan that China is a less fickle friend than than Western countries (which are likely to reimpose sanctions on military goods in a few years' time, when Pakistan becomes less strategically important). No doubt Tony Blair was pushing the opposite position on his visit to Pakistan this weekend.

There has been speculation about a nuclear deal, although I find that unlikely after the Pakistani and Indian missile tests last week. China's past nuclear assistance to Pakistan - which includes the technology behind earlier versions of the rocket tested last week - infuriates India. China is currently more interested in India than in Pakistan, and Indian opposition has previously almost scuppered a Pakistan-China nuclear deal (without tests going on at the time) - so my guess is there won't be any statements on the nuclear industry.