CHINA BUILDING WARSHIPS FOR PAKISTAN
- January 3, 2019, 6:05 pm
China is building the first of four “most advanced” naval warships for Pakistan as part of a major bilateral arms deal to ensure among other things “balance of power” in the strategic Indian Ocean.
China has said that it will provide Pakistan with new powerful Navy warships. It is apparently a move to ensure a 'balance of power' in the Indian Ocean. Equipped with modern detection and weapon systems, it will be capable of anti-ship, anti-submarine and air-defence operations. The under-construction ship is a version of the Chinese Navy’s most advanced guided missile frigate.
China, an “all-weather ally” of Islamabad, is the largest supplier of weapon system to Pakistan. Both countries also jointly manufacturing the JF-Thunder, a single engine multi-role combat aircraft. The ship’s class is Type 054AP, which means it is based on the Type 054A of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.
The Pakistani Navy previously said four such ships had been ordered, according to the report.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE WARSHIP
Once constructed, the warship “will be one of the largest and technologically advanced platforms of the Pakistani Navy and strengthen the country’s capability to respond to future challenges, maintain peace and stability and the balance of power in the Indian Ocean.
It will also support the Pakistani Navy’s initiative of securing sea lanes for international shipping by patrolling distant waters.
Type 054A is the best frigate in service with the PLA Navy. The ship has a fully loaded displacement of about 4,000 metric tonnes and is equipped with advanced radars and missiles. About 30 Type 054As are in service with the PLA Navy.
The ship will have vertical launch cells that can fire Chinese HQ-16 air-defence missiles and other kinds of missiles.
How China became Pakistan’s preferred military:
As a result of past suspension of U.S. military aid combined with anti-Pakistani rhetoric, there is a perceived unreliability of U.S. support for Pakistan. This has engendered in the Pakistani elite the perception that China is their all-weather friend, unlike the U.S. Pakistan was one of the first nations to officially recognize the People’s Republic of China after the communist victory in 1949. China would subsequently play a key role in Pakistan’s development of its first nuclear weapon in 1998, with Pakistan reliant on Chinese expertise and uranium. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has further strengthened this relationship. CPEC will connect China’s western city of Kashgar with Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea, 3,000 kilometers away. Chinese investment in CPEC, part of China’s One Belt One Road initiative, is expected to reach over $46 billion by 2030.
This strengthening relationship has expressed itself in military aid. In 2011, the U.S. and China supplied the Pakistani military with roughly equal proportions of its military aid — 39 percent and 38 percent, respectively. By 2016, however, that number had shifted with 63 percent of its military equipment coming from China and only 19 percent from the U.S. Pakistan is now the largest recipient of Chinese military armaments, receiving 35 percent of China’s total arms exports.
Impact of Pakistan-China relations on Asian defense and security trends:
The shift in the Pakistan-China relationship could be one small part of a much larger process of China challenging the U.S. global leadership, especially with the current Trump administration having a more insular view of America’s international role. China’s One Belt One Road initiative is part of this process as the Chinese government pushes to make its nation the global economic leader. Additionally, Pakistan’s current shift from relying on U.S. military supplies to Chinese military supplies can have serious long-term implications as the military changes to Chinese military systems. This can have the effect of institutionalizing Pakistan’s military relationship with China as it is reliant upon them in the future for supplies within Chinese systems, as was the case with U.S. military systems in the past. This could have the effect of mitigating the influence of U.S. aid and leverage in the future.
India’s disputed borders with Pakistan and China continue to generate insecurity for the country.For many decades now, India has expressed concerns about the clandestine strategic engagement between China and Pakistan, through which Beijing has provided a great deal of assistance to Pakistan’s nuclear weapon and missile programmes. In recent years, however, it appears as if New Delhi has made peace with this, preferring to ignore the Sino-Pak partnership and strengthen its own strategic ties with the United States and various Western states, while improving its economic relationship with China. What worries India is the increasing Chinese presence in the Pakistani part of J&K, including Gilgit-Baltistan. However, on a positive note for India, China has been less supportive of Pakistan’s Kashmir policy.
The third aspect of contemporary Sino-Pak ties that bothers India is the strengthened three-way partnership between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China. China is steadily increasing its influence in the region with its innovative “New Silk Road” strategy, and by offering economic and development assistance to Pakistan. Beijing is also increasingly engaged in regional “conflict management” initiatives, mediating between Kabul and the Taliban, and organising trilateral strategic engagements with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
From the above analysis we find that China is now engaged in an unprecedented close bilateral cooperation with Pakistan across a range of areas. From a domestic, regional, or international political perspective, China has shown a willingness to continue strengthening its relations with China. China is no longer prepared to play a passive and low-key role, and has sought great power status consistent with its own strength that can influence the international system. With the current situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, China is able to take on responsibility for filling the power vacuum in a way that is generally acceptable to all parties involved.
India, for its part, must view the region from a wider, long-term strategic perspective and avoid getting tied down in petty fights with Pakistan – for its own sake and for the sake of promoting a stable regional order. Such an order could lead to peaceful coexistence between India and China and conciliatory management of the region’s problems. It could even produce the first signs of a peaceful Asian superpower on the rise.
Finally, Pakistan needs to adjust its strategic priorities, in light of its growing inability to act as a modern, functioning state. Its deep-seated obsession with India, and the use of non-state actors as a tool of statecraft, need to end if it wants to get back on its feet as a viable nation state and contribute to a stable regional order.