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China vocal over US influence, troops
‘Superpower’s strategy needs corrective steps to contain terrorism in region’
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

In a surprisingly candid public comment, China has voiced concern over the “too high” US military presence in the region.

“China is concerned over the increasing US influence in the region,” Chinese Ambassador Lou Zhaohui said here, adding that the number of foreign forces was “too high” in the region. It is for the first time that China has publicly stated a position on American military presence in the area ever since it attacked Afghanistan after the 9/11 in 2001.

Talking to reporters during a visit to the Islamabad Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Chinese envoy said the “outside influence” was growing in the region. China has suspicions over US intentions in Gwadar port built by Chinese assistance. The port can act as a gateway for China to reach out to West Asia.

“These are issues of serious concern for China,” he said.

He said that US strategies needed some “corrective measures” to contain terrorism. However, he added, terrorism was a serious issue and required cooperation between countries in the region to counter it. “We are cooperating with the US and Pakistan in the fight against terror,” Zhaohui said, adding that separatists belonging to Muslim majority areas of western China had got training in Fata and Afghanistan during the 1980s.

President Asif Zardari was given a special briefing during an unofficial visit to Shanghai on involvement of extremists originating or trained in Pakistan’s tribal areas for terrorist acts in Muslim-dominated areas of southern China.

He said the Chinese authorities were in touch with Pakistani officials to chalk out a joint anti-terrorism strategy. He also expressed concern over safety of about 10,000 Chinese engineers and skilled workers deploying in various projects in Pakistan. Several Chinese engineers have been kidnapped and some killed by extremists.



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