Calling Pakistan an “all-weather friend”, official Chinese media reported that Beijing plans to step up its military cooperation with Islamabad to produce ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and a multi-role combat aircraft. The reports had come amid Pakistan’s new army chief holding talks with top Chinese officials.
On his first visit to China after he took over as Pakistan’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa yesterday held talks with General Fang Fenghui, chief of the Joint Staff Department under the Central Military Commission.
Bajwa also called on Chinese Executive Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, General Fan Changlong and Commander of the People’s Liberation Army General Li Zhuocheng and discussed regional security, economy defence cooperation and other issues of mutual interest.
The “all-weather” strategic partnership has withstood changes in the international community, top Chinese army officer Gen. Fang said.
The talks will consolidate and deepen military exchanges between China and Pakistan, while new cooperation on military techniques might also be discussed, Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the Second Artillery Corps (now known as the PLA Rocket Force), told state-run Global Times.
Weapon exchanges, including the mass production of FC-1 Xiaolong which in Pakistan called JF-17 Thunder is a lightweight and multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the two countries, will be furthered after the meeting, Song said.
The two sides also vowed to ensure the safety of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an important part of China’s One Belt and One Road initiative.
Masood Khalid, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, told the news conference that Pakistan has deployed more than 15,000 troops to protect the CPEC and the country’s navy has raised a special contingent for the protection of Gwadar Port.
The daily also quoted Bajwa as saying that Pakistan’s military is willing to deepen the cooperation with the Chinese army and fully support the Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism in Counter Terrorism by Afghanistan-China-Pakistan-Tajikistan Armed Forces.
(With inputs from PTI)