Pak-China defense relations: China increases arms export to Pakistan to signify its rivalry with India

According to media reports, China is accelerating its defense cooperation with Pakistan to exert pressure on India. The country has acquired everything – from stealth fighters to submarines – to challenge the rival in border disputes (India) with both.

China Looking to Extend its Influence

Experts believe that China wants to expand its influence in South Asia while the U.S. and Europe are focused on the war in Ukraine. According to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi elaborated on these intentions while talking to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in a Tuesday meeting. He said:

Beijing stands ready to assist within its capacity for Pakistan to overcome difficulties and recover its economy.

During the meeting, Ukraine was also discussed, and PM Khan expressed hopes for joint achievements and cooperation with China in all fields.

Pakistan’s Military and Defense Strength

The country’s military power is rapidly growing. China delivered six J-10CE fighter jets to Pakistan this month. The J-10CE is a so-called 4.5-generation fighter, placing it somewhere between the F-15s used widely by Japan and the U.S. and F-35 stealth fighters in terms of capability. The delivered jets took part in a military parade in Pakistan recently.

The country’s defense authorities are also looking to add 50 new JF-17 fighters, which were developed jointly with China. They do not match the performance of the J-10CE but do come with near-stealth capability.

China is actively contributing to improvements in Pakistan’s navy as well, concerned that the Indian military could wield greater clout in key Indo-Pacific sea lanes. Pakistan in January inducted a Chinese-built Type 054 frigate, which is designed for anti-surface, anti-air, and anti-submarine warfare.

In its 2021 white paper, Japan’s Military of Defense stated:

Pakistan is reportedly also planning to purchase eight submarines from China, positioning them as the ‘backbone of the Navy. Four will be built in China, while the remainder will be built in Pakistan.

India’s Military and Defense Strength

India recently deployed the Russian S-400 missile defense system with an eye toward Pakistan. China looks to bolster its response to potential Indian air operations through greater cooperation with Pakistan.

Pak-China Relations continue to Flourish

Sources state that the Sino-Indian relations have deteriorated since the deadly 2020 border clash in the Himalayas. India also announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics at the last minute after a Chinese soldier was chosen as a torchbearer.

On the other hand, Pak-China relations seem to flourish. Chinese President Xi Jinping invited Khan to the Olympics’ opening ceremony. At a summit held on the 6th of February, Xi told Khan that bilateral ties had gained greater strategic significance amid global turbulence and transformation. He expressed firm support for Pakistan’s sovereignty – a likely signal that China stands with Pakistan in the latter’s own border dispute with India. In return, Khan expressed hopes for greater cooperation with China by stating that no force can hinder China’s advance.

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