China, US, Russia navies hold drill in Arabian Sea off Pak coast

Navies from 45 countries including the US, UK, China, Russia, Turkey and several Arab and African countries are participating in the week-long exercise called ‘Aman-21’.
A file photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping reviewing the honour guards of the Chinese People’s Liberation Navy in 2019. (Reuters file)
A file photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping reviewing the honour guards of the Chinese People’s Liberation Navy in 2019. (Reuters file)
Published on Feb 13, 2021 06:03 PM IST
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BySutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Vinod Janardhanan

A flotilla of warships led by a frontline destroyer of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) are taking part in a multilateral naval exercise in Pakistan in the Arabian Sea along with naval forces from several countries including the US and Russia.

Navies from 45 countries including the US, UK, China, Russia, Turkey and several Arab and African countries are participating in the week-long exercise called ‘Aman-21’, which was inaugurated on Friday; the exercise has been held every two years since 2007.

“The PLA Navy 119 Flotilla” arrived near the Karachi port earlier this week after the flotilla wrapped up its escort mission in the Gulf of Aden, the PLA Daily said in a report.

“The 119 Flotilla, led by the Type 052D guided missile destroyer Guiyang and consisted of the Type 054A guided missile frigate Zaozhuang and the Type 903A comprehensive supplement ship Dongpinghu,” the report added.

It’s rare for the Chinese and the US navies to take part in multilateral exercises, the state media reported, adding the drill comes in the backdrop of military tensions between China and the US in regions like the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. It is also a rare occasion in which Russia joins an exercise together with NATO countries, analysts said.

“The exercise this time is unique in a sense that it provides an opportunity to navies from China, Russia and the US and other Western navies to come under one platform,” an officer from the Pakistan Navy told Chinese state media.

The Chinese navy dispatched a Type 052D destroyer given the importance of the naval drill.

The US Navy says this particular type of Chinese destroyer depicts China’s new naval power.

“Chinese naval threats have grown by leaps and bounds during the past decade. No class of surface warship has demonstrated this newfound naval might more than the modern Luyang III–class guided-missile destroyers, also known as the Type 052D, which began entering service in 2014,” the US Naval Institute, an independent US-based think tank, wrote in a report on the warship.

Ahead of the exercise, Pakistan navy chief, Admiral M Amjad Khan Niazi told Chinese state media the PLAN’s presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) the maritime area was important to maintain regional balance of power.

Describing India as “expansionist” Niazi told the nationalistic tabloid, Global Times, that New Delhi was destabilising the IOR and the expanding partnership between Chinese and Pakistani navies will play an increasingly important role in maintaining peace in the IOR.

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