Production of jets, missiles on agenda at Pak-China military meetings: Experts

Mass production of a jointly developed combat aircraft and a wide array of missiles in Pakistan was part of the agenda for meetings of the Sino-Pakistani military top brass in Beijing.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2017 21:07 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Pakistan,China,Pakistan-China military meet
Mass production of a jointly developed multi-role combat aircraft and ballistic missiles in Pakistan were on the agenda during a meeting between the Sino-Pak military brass in Beijing.(File Photo)

The mass production of a jointly developed multi-role combat jet and a wide array of missiles in Pakistan was on the agenda for meetings of the Sino-Pakistani military top brass in Beijing on Thursday, experts said.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) topped the agenda, with both countries vowing to protect the $46-billion project by increasing security along its route and strengthening manpower. A top Chinese official said the CPEC will be made into a “landmark” project.

Pakistan Army chief, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, held separate meetings with Gen Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) that is headed by President XI Jinping, and Fang Fenghui, chief of the Joint Staff Department under the CMC.

Li Zuocheng, commander of the People’s Liberation Army, and Shao Yuanming, deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department, also attended the meetings.

Besides military officials, Bajwa met vice-premier Zhang Gaoli, a member of the elite Standing Committee of the Communist Party’s Politburo.

Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the Second Artillery Corps (now known as the PLA Rocket Force), said: “Weapon exchanges, including the mass production of FC-1 Xiaolong, a lightweight and multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the two countries, will be furthered after the meeting.”

Song told the nationalistic Global Times tabloid: “China’s authorisation to Pakistan to produce ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-ship missiles and main battle tanks in Pakistan is also on the agenda.”

China’s foreign ministry played down the reports, saying defence cooperation with Pakistan was “normal”.

“China and Pakistan maintain normal defence exchanges and relevant cooperation,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing.

Referring to the joint production of aircraft and missiles, Hua said: “from the news release, we didn’t see anything on an agreement on ballistic missile.”

Asked about China’s UN obligations on missile technology, Hua said all UN members have obligations and the responsibility to observe UN resolutions. “Our position on the strategic balance in South Asia is consistent,” she said.

During his meeting with the Pakistan Army chief, Gen Fan Changlong said the military-to-military relationship is an important part of bilateral relations. He described the two sides as all-weather strategic cooperative partners and said the people of both countries maintain a fraternal friendship.

“Over recent years, the two militaries have carried out all-round cooperation in such fields as mutual visits, joint exercises and training, exchanges among military academies and so forth,” he was quoted as saying by defence ministry.

Fan said the CPEC “is the flagship project of ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative and leaders of both countries have attached great importance to it and positive progress has been made”.

“Fan stressed that China appreciates Pakistani military’s positive efforts to safeguard the security of the CPEC and is willing to further strengthen the cooperation with Pakistan, so as to promote the pragmatic cooperation between the two militaries in all fields to a new high,” the defence ministry said.

“Pakistan is willing to work with China to firmly fight against the terrorist forces, so as to guarantee a complete success of the CPEC project,” Bajwa said.

Earlier this week, Pakistan’s envoy to China, Masood Khalid, told a news conference his country had deployed more than 15,000 troops to protect the CPEC, and that the Pakistan Navy has raised a contingent to protect Gwadar port.

The port, which was built and is now operated by China, is a key part of the CPEC.

First Published: Mar 17, 2017 11:01 IST