A Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) task group arrived in Karachi, Pakistan, on Saturday for a four-day port call and training visit. The task group comprised three warships, including the Type 052C destroyer Changchun, Type 054A frigate Jingzhou, and Type 903A replenishment ship Chaohu.
According to China’s Xinhua news agency, the Chinese task group is led by Rear Admiral Shen Hao, deputy commander of the PLAN’s East Sea Fleet. According to Xinhua, Shen said “the visit will further promote the understanding and mutual trust between the two peoples, and boost the cooperation and friendship between the two countries.”
He reportedly added that increased “cooperation and communication” between the two navies would contribute to “regional stability and world peace and play an active role in promoting common development.” Pakistan and China consider each other “all-weather” strategic partners.
Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah, the Pakistan Navy’s chief of naval staff, visited the Chinese task group. According to a statement released by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations, Zakaullah said that the Pakistan-China friendship “is highly valued and the continued cooperation between them has proven to be a source of strength for both the countries.”
The Pakistani statement noted that the visit would cover professional discussions between the two navies, focused on increasing interoperability and maritime collaboration. “Operational training activities, joint interactive sessions, table top discussions on professional topics and social events are also planned,” the statement added. The two navies will also conduct passing exercises to expand their interoperability.
In addition to military-to-military cooperation, the two countries are jointly development military equipment, including the JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter, and engaged in other defense commercial activity. Pakistan will also purchase eight Type 039A attack submarines from China.
A recently released U.S. Department of Defense report on Chinese military power suggested that the People’s Liberation Army-Navy’s next overseas base could be established in Pakistan. The PLAN’s first overseas base is currently under construction in Djibouti to facilitate anti-piracy deployments in the western Indian Ocean region.
As part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a Chinese state-owned firm took control of the strategically vital Gwadar port in late-2015. Though the port is currently a commercial project, as a warm-water, deep-sea port on the Arabian Sea, Gwadar could possess immense dual-use value as a naval logistics hub for the PLAN in the future.