ISLAMABAD, July 25, 2015 (MAMOSA Report) — Pakistan and China on Thursday agreed to a multi-billion dollar deal where Beijing would provide eight submarines to the Pakistan Navy, an agreement analysts are calling the largest-ever defense deal for China.
“Pakistan and China have reached an understanding on matters of defense cooperation relating to Pakistan Navy,” announced the finance ministry after a meeting with Chinese authorities. “Financial arrangements to this effect were also concluded.”
Last month, both countries signed an agreement for the construction of six patrol vessels for the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency from the China Ship Trading Company.
Four ships will be constructed in China while the remaining will be built at Karachi’s Shipyard under a transfer of technology agreement, reported Reuters.
Despite the magnitude of the submarine deal, government officials did not provide any details, even declining to confirm the size of the transaction, the news report said. However, the composition of the Chinese delegation with which the agreement was reached suggests that the arrangements have been struck for purchase of eight submarines, the news agency added.
The reports of the submarine deal was in the air since the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Pakistan in April this year.
According to a briefing that the defence ministry gave to parliament in April this year, Pakistan was negotiating a deal for acquisition of submarines from China.
There have been reports that Yuan-class Type-041 diesel-electric attack submarines were being considered.
It was reported then that the contract could be worth $4 billion to $5 billion, the biggest arms export deal for China.
Sources told the Express Tribune, Pakistan would make down payments to China in four instalments and the delivery of the submarines will be made in the coming years — almost the same time oil from the Middle East would start being shipped to China via Gwadar port through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor to its western provide cutting shipping time by more then half.
According to analysts, Pakistan’s acquisition of these naval vessels from China will provide deterrence against sea piracy and terrorists in the western part of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) which will witness increased traffic and strategic importance due to the economic corridor as well as China’s new maritime silk route initiative — along with its Belt and Road Initiative.
China is Pakistan’s biggest supplier of military hardware, which includes battle tanks, naval ships as well as fighter jets. The two jointly manufacture J-17 Thunder warplanes. Therefore, it is understandable China is selling naval vessels also to Pakistan, said one analyst.
According to reports, the Pakistan Army’s design-build construction outfit Frontier Works Organization has completed 502 kilometres of the 870 kilometre road network project in less than 18 months for linking Gwadar Port with the rest of the country — a feat unprecedented by international standards. The new road network will feed into the economic corridor’s highways and motorways linking Gawadar and other areas of Balochistan province with Khasgar – China’s westernmost city in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.