China’s defence minister told Pakistan’s navy chief on Monday that both countries’ military, especially their ships, should “expand into new fields of cooperation” to improve their capabilities to protect regional security.
Relationships between the two military date back many years, and its navies and air services regularly conduct bilateral drills on each other’s soil.
In the case of a naval blockade in the Strait of Malacca, Pakistan and its access to the Arabian Sea will be crucial for China.
But since China constructed its first overseas military station in Djibouti on the western edge of the Indian Ocean in 2017, its involvement in the region has alarmed some, particularly in neighbouring India.
Chief of Naval Staff Amjad Khan Niazi, who was in Beijing, was informed by China’s Minister of Defence Li Shangfu that the military cooperation between the two nations was an important aspect of bilateral relations.
According to a statement on China’s Ministry of National Defence website, Li said that the two militaries should “expand into new areas of exchanges, create new high points of cooperation to continuously enhance their ability to deal with all sorts of risks and challenges, and jointly maintain the security interests of the two countries and of the region.”
After meeting with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Asim Munir in late April, Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Zhang Youxia informed him that China’s military was eager to extend and deepen its cooperation with Pakistan’s military. Niazi’s visit follows this.
China has not said if it has asked for military access to Pakistan’s deepwater port of Gwadar thus far.
Prior until this, Gwadar was considered to be the most likely location for a future Chinese military post in Pakistan, according to the Pentagon. Any indication of it would increase New Delhi’s concerns about expanding Chinese military ties and resources in its own area.
Concern regarding a Chinese survey ship’s visit to a vital port in Sri Lanka was voiced by New Delhi in 2022. When a Chinese submarine and a cruiser were permitted to dock in Colombo in 2014, Sri Lanka infuriated India.