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After bin Laden: Could mistrust between US and Pakistan be opportunity for China?

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Beijing initially welcomed Osama bin Laden’s death as “a positive development.” But the Chinese government has since gone out of its way to praise Islamabad for its antiterrorist stance, in sharp contrast with suggestions among observers in the US that the Al Qaeda leader’s presence in Pakistan had been known and concealed by Pakistani officials.

“Pakistan is at the important forefront in the international counterterrorism campaign,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Tuesday. “The Chinese government will firmly support Pakistan formulating and implementing counter-terrorism strategies in line with its domestic conditions.”

China's relationship with Pakistan

China has its own problem with Islamic militants. Violent separatists in the predominantly Muslim western province of Xinjiang have launched sporadic attacks there, mainly against Chinese soldiers. Their bases outside China, however, are thought to lie more in Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan rather than in Pakistan.

China and Pakistan are old and close friends; Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China, and stuck by the country during its years of international isolation in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The two countries are celebrating the 60 year anniversary of their diplomatic relations this year.

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