China said on Monday it had sold two warships to Pakistan to protect the strategic Gwadar port, denying reports that it had “donated” the vessels.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing that Pakistan had bought the two battle ships.
“I have learnt that some reports said China has donated these vessels. This is not correct,” she said while replying to a question.
“It is normal military trade cooperation between the two countries and complies with the international commitments of the two countries. So, I want clarify that it is not a donation, it is military trade cooperation. The Pakistani side bought these two ships from China.”
China handed over the warships to the Pakistan Navy last week as part of efforts to ensure the joint security of the Gwadar port in Balochistan and the trade route of the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The formal handover of the ships was done at a ceremony at Gwadar port that was attended by Chinese officials. Vice Admiral Arifullah Hussaini received the ships, which have been named after the nearby rivers Hingol and Basol.
Hussaini told the audience at the ceremony that the Pakistan Navy has become stronger with the induction of the Chinese-built ships. The Chinese government will provide two more warships to Pakistan Navy, officials said.
Pakistan has already raised a new division of the army to protect the CPEC route in and around Gwadar.
China has invested $14 billion in 30 “early harvest” projects under the CPEC, a flagship project of the One Belt One Road initiative launched by President Xi Jinping. Some early harvest projects will be complete by early 2018 and some hydroelectric projects will be ready in 2020.