China, as part of its recent military and foreign policies, has planned to upgrade on a large scale its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, to sell it to Pakistan, its ally, in order to compete with India. This selling is to increase Pakistani Navy’s strength, facing India equally and making of Pak a better ally for China.
An aircraft carrier fleet of the Chinese PLA Navy arrives in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on July 7 for a visit to mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China. The fleet comprises the country’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning, two destroyers and a frigate. The fleet will leave Hong Kong on July 11. (Picture source : PLA HK Garrison)
An official media report separately disclosed that China has planned to carry out a “large-scale upgrade” of China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and “sell it to Pakistan to compete with India”! It described Pakistan “as the best destination for it” and said that by then the Liaoning, which was commissioned into the PLAN in September 2012, will have served the Chinese Navy for about 18 years. Gwadar and Karachi are already described by Chinese Navy strategists as a “logistics base” and “PLA Navy (PLAN) base” respectively. This does mean that the carrier could be sold to Pak by 2020.
This isn’t the only military vehicle that China wants to sell to Pakistan. During the past few months, plenty of armament and vehicles have been sold to Pakistani armed forces, including nuclear weapons technology, warships, aircraft and missiles. In addition to that, China and Pakistan both take part to more and more joint exercises on their shared borders. Moreover is China sending aircraft to Pakistan to help them understand Indian aircraft’s technologies and characteristics, in order to counter them more efficiently (J-11, J-11B and Su-30MKK to simulate India’s Su-30MKI, and J-10C to simulate the Rafale fighters India is to acquire).
Military cooperation between those two countries seems to increase more and more all along the months. And China appears intending to integrate Pakistan into its military system to fulfil its global ambitions. Pakistan would then become an outpost for Chinese extended global maritime reach.
All of this can largely be explained by the intentions China has to extend its military and political influence beyond its borders. Recently, China actually showned to the world its desire to military secure the South China Sea, and maybe even the Indian Ocean, by increasing its military power and presence in these areas. In order to make it possible, China has made the decision to deeply transform its armed forces by enhancing its naval capabilities, through the building of brand new vessels, but also through the training of more maritime personnel.
PLA Navy (PLAN) strategists emphasized that, in order to be able to achieve such goals, China would have to launch new carrier battle formations in East and South China. Therefore, China has decided to build 5 aircraft carriers and launch them by 2025-2030. Another 6th could even be considered but whether this one will be built remains uncertain.