China and Pakistan have completed their largest bilateral naval exercise to date, marking the first time Pakistan hosted an advanced Chinese destroyer for training.

The Sea Guardians event is the latest in a series of joint maritime exercises that began in 2014, with the two countries alternate as hosts.

The exercise aimed to demonstrate China and Pakistan’s common aim to safeguard their shared economic corridor, a key part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Officials noted the exercise would help strengthen Sino-Pakistan relations and explore new avenues for naval cooperation.

The Chinese contingent included a Type 052DL destroyer and a Song-class submarine, marking the first time Pakistan hosted such an advanced Chinese destroyer for an exercise.

Other Chinese submarines have visited Pakistan in 2015, including a Type 039A/Type 041 Yuan diesel-electric sub and a Type 093 Shang nuclear-powered attack boat in 2017.

The rest of the Chinese fleet attending this month’s exercise included two Type 054A frigates, a submarine support ship, a tanker, helicopters, and a marine detachment.

One element of the exercise began on November 14, with Chinese vessels and the Pakistani Type 054A/P frigate Shahjahan sailing out of Karachi. The Pakistan Navy participated in the exercise with Azmat-class missile boats and aircraft.

The drills simulated a multi-threat environment, enhancing maritime cooperation and defense relations through mutual exchange of maritime experience and interoperability between the two navies.

China’s commitment to modernizing Pakistan’s Navy and expanding its presence in the Indian Ocean has been emphasized at the Sea Guardians event.

India’s Navy is tracking all Chinese ships involved in the exercise, but is particularly concerned by the selection of a Type 052 guided-missile destroyer and Type 039 diesel-electric attack submarine.

Despite being rivals, both have friendly relations with China, but have clashed over a border dispute. China-Pakistan operations involving these vessels will strengthen Pakistan’s capabilities against India.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *