China has decided to enhance its arms shipments to Pakistan and take a significant step forward in its defence cooperation with Islamabad, beginning sales of stealth fighters and submarines, a move seen as Beijing’s attempt to exert more pressure on its border dispute opponent India.
China wants to expand its defence capabilities in South Asia, allowing it to exert even more influence in the area. It’s worth noting that China’s increased defence cooperation comes at a time when the United States and Europe are preoccupied with the deteriorating situation in the Russia–Ukraine conflict.
During his visit, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi stated: “Beijing is ready to support Pakistan in overcoming problems and recovering its economy to the best of its ability.”
China handed six J-10CE fighter planes to Pakistan earlier this month as part of its defence cooperation. The J-10CE planes also took part in the Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad on March 23, where the country’s military might was on display.
In terms of capabilities, the J-10CE is a 4.5-generation fighter jet that competes with the F-15 and F-35 stealth fighters.
Pakistan has also received at least 50 new JF-17 fighter jets, which were produced in collaboration with China.
The growing defence cooperation between China and Pakistan is directly tied to India’s recent acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile defence system.
Increased defence cooperation between China and Islamabad is considered as a response to a possible threat from Indian aviation operations.
Islamabad enlisted a Chinese-built Type 054 frigate, geared for anti-surface, anti-air, and anti-submarine warfare, with the goal of countering a hypothetical Indian threat of clouting critical India-Pacific maritime routes.
According to reports, Islamabad is also intending to buy eight Chinese submarines, which it intends to use as the backbone of its fleet.
It has also been suggested that at least four will be constructed in China, with the remainder being constructed in Pakistan.