China, Pakistan begin war games off Shanghai

The drills are aimed at ‘jointly dealing with maritime security threat’

July 10, 2022 09:00 pm | Updated 09:00 pm IST - Beijing

A file photo of Chinese and Pakistani troops taking part in a joint war exercise in Jhelum, Pakistan.

A file photo of Chinese and Pakistani troops taking part in a joint war exercise in Jhelum, Pakistan. | Photo Credit: AP

China and Pakistan on Sunday began four-day naval exercises off the coast of Shanghai, involving Pakistan’s most advanced China-built frigate and paving the way for closer security cooperation between the two countries in the Indian Ocean.

The drills, the two countries said, were aimed at “jointly dealing with maritime security threats”. The PLA Eastern Theater Command Navy said the frigate Xiangtan, corvette Shuozhou, supply ship Qiandaohu, two fighter jets and a submarine would participate, the Communist Party-run Global Times reported.

Wei Dongxu, a Chinese military expert, told the paper the two countries “need to jointly demonstrate their capabilities in safeguarding strategic sea lanes that transport energy and goods”.

The exercises are the second edition of Sea Guardians, following drills held in January 2020 in the Arabian Sea off Karachi.

Pakistan’s Navy said its second Type 054A frigate built by China, Taimur, which was delivered to them in Shanghai last month, would take part in the drill.

The first Type 054A, Tughril, was commissioned last year. Pakistan’s envoy to China Moil Ul Haque then told Chinese media that the commissioning of the frigate “in the context of the overall security paradigm of the region” would “strengthen Pakistan Navy’s capabilities to respond to maritime challenges to ensure seaward defence, maintain peace, stability and balance of power in the Indian Ocean region”.

The drills this week followed the visit of Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa to China last month, where he held talks with China’s top-ranking General, Zhang Youxia, who is Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission headed by President Xi Jinping.

General Zhang said China was “willing to strengthen communication, reinforce cooperation, deepen pragmatic exchanges with Pakistan” as well as “properly deal with the complicated factors in regional situation”, and described the relationship as “unbreakable and rock-solid.”

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