China and Pakistan have signed an agreement to deepen defence cooperation between the all-weather allies amid rising tensions with India.
China’s Defence Minister Gen Wei Fenghe on Monday held talks with Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed regional security issues.
Both “exchanged in-depth views on the international and regional situations, the relations between the two countries and militaries, the equipment and technology cooperation and other issues”, a report in China’s official media said.
While details of the new MoU were not immediately available, it follows another agreement signed last year, when China’s Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) General Xu Qiliang visited Rawalpindi for defence cooperation and “capacity building of the Pakistan Army”.
According to reports, this MoU appears to be a response to the growing defence partnership between India and America. Earlier this year, both countries inked the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), a pact that would allow India to access data and information from the military satellites of America.
On Tuesday he met Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan. He called on both countries to “push the military-to-military relationship to a higher level, so as to jointly cope with various risks and challenges, firmly safeguard the sovereignty and security interests of the two countries and safeguard the regional peace and stability,” Chinese State media reported.
Gen. Wei also discussed on-going projects under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), in which the Pakistani military is playing an increasingly prominent role.
The Chinese defence minister’s visit to Pakistan came a day after his whirlwind trip to Nepal where he met Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and exchanged views on matters of mutual interest.
He also held talks with Nepal Army chief Gen. Purna Chandra Thapa on ways to resume military cooperation and training impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A batch of Chinese air force personnel left for Pakistan on Monday to participate in a joint exercise to deepen practical cooperation and improve the actual-combat training level of the two sides, the Chinese military said.
The troops left for Pakistani Air Force’s airbase in Bholari at Thatta district in Sindh, northeast of Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, to participate in the drills named “Shaheen (Eagle)-IX”, a statement issued by China’s Defence Ministry said. The joint air force exercise, which will be held close to the Gujarat border is said to conclude in late December and is a project within the 2020 cooperation plan of the two militaries.
“It will promote the development of China-Pakistan military-to-military relationships, deepen practical cooperation between the two air forces, and improve the actual-combat training level of the two sides,” it said. The first such drill was held in Pakistan in March 2011. All-weather friends, China and Pakistan share close military ties. China helps Pakistan to jointly produce JF-17 fighter jets and other armaments.
The drill comes in the backdrop of the ongoing India-China border friction along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh and Pakistan miserably failing to send terrorists across the Line of Control (LOC) before winters settle in.