Pakistan, China’s “iron brother,” has recently been plunged into political turmoil. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday managed to block a vote of no-confidence tabled by the opposition. After the motion was rejected, Khan addressed a meeting and named a senior US diplomat as the person allegedly involved in the “foreign conspiracy” to overthrow his government through the no-confidence vote.
Experts cited several reasons that have led to the current political situation in Pakistan, including serious political infighting and poor economic development in Pakistan under the COVID-19 epidemic, to name just a few. And of course, as Khan mentioned, some external forces, especially those from the US, are interfering in the domestic affairs of the South Asian nation.
Zhao Gancheng, a research fellow at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies (SIIS), told the Global Times that Washington has failed in its attempts to rope in Khan, so it is possible it now has meddled in Pakistan’s politics to topple the current government.
Liu Zongyi, secretary-general of the Research Center for China-South Asia Cooperation at the SIIS, also believes the West, and particularly the US, doesn’t want to see Khan remain in power since he has gotten tougher on them.
The politics of Sri Lanka, another country close to China, is also seeing big troubles. All cabinet ministers of the country’s current administration resigned on Sunday, except for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Besides, the president’s ruling coalition lost its majority in parliament on Tuesday.
Even though the political upheaval in Sri Lanka is mainly because of the economic crisis it is being confronted – one of the country’s worst ever, there is still the possibility that Washington will take advantage of the situation to stir up troubles and undermine the bilateral relations between Beijing and Colombo. That is what we should be wary of.
In recent years, the US has started to feel a sense of crisis due to China’s rise and its close cooperation with other countries. Thus, the US is making all efforts to hinder the engagement between China and its neighbors in every possible way. For example, it smears the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative as setting “debt traps” in neighboring countries. It also keeps playing up the “China threat” in the hope that some regional countries tilt away from China and toward itself.
The US is infamous for staging or inciting “color revolutions” in or near a country that has a government it dislikes. It is behind the Orange Revolution and the “Euromaidan” in Ukraine, one of Russia’s neighbors. Given such a bad reputation the US enjoys, some suggest the US is doing similar things in regions around China.
In Zhao’s opinion, there is no doubt that the US wants to contain China, but the former cannot afford to stage “color revolutions” in each and every one of China’s neighboring countries, as the cost is way too high. Liu also believes that the possibility of the US engaging in “color revolutions” in countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka is quite low.
However, this does not mean that the US will stop meddling in the politics of some of China’s neighbors to undermine China’s development and neighborhood diplomacy. It will also disrupt the peace and stability of both the region and regional countries, something that countries such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka desperately need at the moment.
It will not be easy for these countries to deal with the attempts of interference and infiltration from the external forces. Liu sees the ongoing turmoil in the two South Asian countries as inevitable consequences of intense domestic political struggles, leaving a seam for other forces to take advantage of the situation to creep in.
“Only by resolving internal conflicts and stabilizing their societies first will these nations be able to protect themselves from external forces,” said Liu.