Pakistan is a part of China's westward challenge to the U.S. Beijing is embarking on a new strategy with regard to Islamabad. Pakistan is becoming a key player in China's ambitious westward expansion vis-Ã -vis the United States in West Asia and the Indian Ocean. "A quiet geopolitical crisis," writes Selig Harrison, former South Asia Bureau Chief of the Washington Post, "is unfolding in the Himalayan borderlands of northern Pakistan, where Islamabad is handing over de facto control of the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region in the northern part of disputed Kashmir to China ... and 11,000 Chinese troops have poured into the Pakistani-administered Kashmir." Indian military sources confirmed a Chinese infantry battalion now is deployed in Gilgit-Baltistan at the Khunjerab Pass to provide security for Chinese workers and railroad soldiers to work on widening the Karakoram highway and building a high-speed railroad. The control of Pakistani-administered Kashmir will give China a strategic land access to the Gulf through Pakistan. As Harrison points out, "It takes 16 to 25 days for Chinese tankers to reach the Gulf. When high-speed rail and road links through Gilgit-Baltistan are completed, China will be able to transport cargo from Eastern China to the new Chinese-built Pakistani naval bases at Gwadar, Pasni and Ormara, just east of the Gulf, within 48 hours." Chinese People's Liberation Army soldiers also are constructing 22 tunnels in secret locations in Pakistan. One obvious use of these tunnels is for the projected gas pipeline from Iran to China, but they also can be used for missile storage sites in Pakistan. Analysts in Southeast and South Asia now see Pakistan as "China's other North Korea." As K. Subrahmanyam, senior defense analyst of Indian Express, summarizes, "major projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), large-scale military presence in PoK, plans for a railway line and oil and gas pipelines connecting Xinjiang and the Pakistani port of Gwadar, and the agreement to supply Pakistan with two nuclear reactors, all these taken together indicate that Pakistan is likely to play the major role in China's West Asia strategy that North Korea does in its East Asia strategy." China is not only the biggest arms supplier for Pakistan, but Islamabad also depends on Beijing for transfer of technology and military know-how. China has not only modernized Pakistani armed forces, but also established many advanced joint military projects in Pakistan. China has provided Pakistan's military with more than 400 combat aircrafts, 1,600 large tanks, and 40 navy ships. Pakistan's nuclear and missile projects are backed by China as well. China has consistently provided Pakistan with wide-ranging assistance in helping Pakistan to develop nuclear weapons and a variety of missiles, ranging from short range M-11s to medium range M-9s and intermediate range M-18s, capable of carrying nuclear warheads with an estimated reach of 500-1800 kilometers. "If you subtract China's help from the Pakistani nuclear program," says Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, "there is no Pakistani nuclear program." China's "generous" assistance to Pakistan is not limited to military and nuclear fronts, but includes the economic front as well. More than 60 Chinese state corporations and more than 10,000 Chinese technicians are working on more than 120 projects in Pakistan. Chinese investment in Pakistan's defense, banking, oil exploration and mining sectors was valued at $10 billion in 2009, a figure estimated to grow to $15 billion in 2010. Pakistan is a critical link in the chain of China's new "westward strategy." Beijing's Pakistan policy, together with its support for Tehran's nuclear weapons program and its sale of long-range missiles to Saudi Arabia, all are connected in China's move to take advantage of what Beijing perceives as declining U.S. power in the region. China is marching westward through Pakistan. Beijing also is making Islamabad increasingly dependent on China. When asked if Islamabad is worried about Chinese state-owned enterprises taking control of some of Pakistan's most important companies, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari stated, "We don't have any concern, and we don't feel China is a threat." "Pakistan's future lies in East with China," Azam Khan Swati, Pakistan's Federal Minister for Science and Technology, remarked recently. Although the United States has confirmed the information about the growing Sino-Pakistan nexus, and despite President Barack Obama's repeated declarations that Pakistan is central to American security, Pakistan is a country that remains largely ignored by the United States. Washington has made no effort to counter the rising Beijing-Islamabad military alliance and adopted no tangible policy against the nuclear aid by China. It is time for the U.S. to look seriously at the Sino-Pakistan nexus. Yi is the director of Marietta College's China Program.