The Big Story: China-Pakistan Military Relations
General Han Weiguo, the Commander of the PLA Ground Forces, was in Pakistan this week. General Han, during his visit, met Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa. He visited Pakistan’s Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi. During his visit, Han lauded Pakistan army’s achievements in fighting terrorism and appreciated its efforts to maintain peace and stability of the region. He was conferred with Nishan-i-Imtiaz (Military), one of the highest honours given by the state of Pakistan.
While talking to Han, PM Imram Khan expressed his appreciation for China’s support to Pakistan on international and regional issues. Khan recalled a wide range of exchanges with President Xi Jinping in Beijing and Bishkek this year. COAS Bajwa also reaffirmed Pakistan’s unwavering support for the security of China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The military-to-military relationship between China and Pakistan has a long and deep history. Conventional arms transfer from China to Pakistan started from 1965. Today, Pakistan continues to be the largest arms importer for China. Of the total arms exported by China from 2009-18, 58.42 percent went to Pakistan. From 2014-18, Pakistan’s share has increased to 69.13 percent. On the other hand, US-Pakistan arms trade has gradually declined from 2009-2018 and reached its all-time low in the past three years (2016-18).
Following are the major weapons supplied by China to Pakistan:
JF 17 Planes: 150
Loong Wing Armed Drones: 5
Type 041/ Yuan Submarines: 8
ZDK03 Early warning aircraft: 4
Type 054A/ Jiangkai: 2
WZ10 Combat Helicopters: 3
Source: Economic Times
Beyond arms sales, China is also supporting Pakistan in upgrading its combat capabilities through joint exercises. The PLA Airforce conducted Shaheen VII air exercises with Pakistan in December 2018 at Bholari air force base, Pakistan. Both these countries were also involved in Warrior VI and Aman 19, bilateral counter terrorism and naval exercises, respectively.
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