According to a report by the New York Times, the economic corridor between China and Pakistan is turning into more of a military corridor, as both countries are jointly preparing aircraft and weapons in a confidential manner.
According to the report, just weeks after President Donald Trump announced the suspension of billions of dollars of security aid to Pakistan, the Pakistani and Chinese officials are putting the final touches on a confidential deal to expand Pakistan’s building of Chinese military jets, weaponry and other hardware.
Beijing is currently aiming at manufacturing JF-17 Thunder jets with Pakistan, which will reach completion soon. The Jets are getting manufactured at Pakistan’s military-run Kamra Aeronautical Complex in Punjab Province. In addition to this, China is also working on the Beidou Satellite Navigation System with Islamabad. It is an alternate navigation system that China is developing to replace America’s Global Positioning System or GPS. Beidou can be used for civilian and also for military navigation. It can tactically aid Pakistan in launching missiles and aircraft with precision.
This way, according to Ney York Times Report, China is also transforming Pakistan into a military showcase to woo other Muslim countries into buying Chinese technology replacing USA ones.
“In Pakistan, China has found an amenable ally with much to recommend it: shared borders and a long history of cooperation; a hedge in South Asia against India; a large market for arms sales and trade with potential for growth; a wealth of natural resources,” the report said.
The report also directs attention to the Gwadar port, which can be harnessed by China to counter USA and India’s presence in the Arabian Sea.
“Military analysts predict that China could use Gwadar to expand the naval footprint of its attack submarines, after agreeing in 2015 to sell eight submarines to Pakistan in a deal worth up to $6 billion. China could use the equipment it sells to the South Asian country to refuel its own submarines, extending its navy’s global reach.”
The report adds that Gwadar Port also grants Beijing a strategic position to counter against India and the United States to the point of naval blockades, if anytime tensions at sea escalate.
Time and again, USA has warned countries like Pakistan of China’s dept-trap diplomacy. Vice-President Mike Pence had said that China’s seizure of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port is a strategic development in expanding China’s naval out-reach.
Sri Lanka had to hand-over its strategic port of Hambantota on a 99-year lease to China after it found it difficult to repay loans taken under the former PM Rajapaksa. This also raised concerns for India, as Hambantota can be used by China to eye Southern Parts of our country.
“Just ask Sri Lanka, which took on massive debt to let Chinese state companies build a port of questionable commercial value, it may soon become a forward military base for China’s growing blue-water navy.” Pence had said.
All the military projects undertaken by China and Pakistan are designated as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is a $1 trillion chain of infrastructure development programs stretching across some 70 countries. China is investing $62 billion in developing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The US and other economic watchdogs have also warned countries getting involved with China’s BRI, as being a China’s aim of spreading its neo-colonial tentacles. A similar fate was witnessed by Greece after it handed one of their busiest Port Piraeus to China.
China has vehemently rejected the allegations of New York Times and reiterated that OBOR initiative is purely for economic intent.