China would deploy its naval ships along with the Pakistan Navy to safeguard the strategic Gwadar port and trade routes under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a Pakistan Navy official has said.
China and Pakistan are currently building the nearly 3,000-km-long economic corridor linking Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with Xinjiang to improve connectivity between the two countries. The move would open up a new and cheaper cargo route for transporting oil to China as well as export of Chinese goods to the Middle East and Africa.
“China would also deploy its naval ships in coordination with Pakistan Navy to safeguard the port and trade under the CPEC,” the official was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune .
- The China-Pakistan economic corridor is an ambitious $46 billion investment plan linking western China to the Arabian Sea with infrastructure, energy and transport projects.
- India has objected to the corridor as it goes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
In the past, China has shied away from saying that it plans to deploy its naval ships in Gwadar, a move which could raise alarm in the U.S. and India.
Experts feel that CPEC and the Gwadar port would enhance the military capabilities of both China and Pakistan, and make it possible for the Chinese Navy to easily access the Arabian Sea.
Having a naval base in Gwadar could allow the Chinese vessels to use the port for repair and maintenance of their fleet in the Indian Ocean region.
The Pakistani official also said that the Navy is considering buying super-fast ships from China and Turkey for its special squadron to be deployed at the Gwadar port for security purposes.
“A squadron may have four to six warships,” he said.
The ships would be bought soon, keeping in view their immediate need in the fleet, he said, adding that two defence ships have already been deployed at Gwadar.
Another official of the naval force added that Pakistan has kicked off the process of establishing the largest shipyard of the region in Gwadar. A similar ship-building project is being deliberated at Port Qasim in Karachi.