China has officially confirmed what is its biggest ever military deal, the sale of eight attack submarines to Pakistan which many experts say may be deployed in the Arabian Sea and challenge India’s interests in the Indian Ocean Region.
Four of the submarines are to be built at the Karachi shipyard, with the rest in China.
The China Shipbuilding Heavy Industry held a meeting on October 12 to confirm details of the deal, attended by its chairman Hu Wenming, China Shipbuilding newspaper reported. The report was later published by the Chinese military’s official website.
Talks for the deal, estimated at more than $5 billion, were announced from Islamabad earlier this year, but Beijing was yet to confirm it.
The first four diesel-powered electric submarines will be delivered by 2023, and the rest by 2028. The submarines are thought to be export variants of the PLA’s Type 39A – also known as Type 41 – Yuan-Class submarines, with a depth of 300 metres. Its weaponry will be tailor-made for Pakistani requirements.
The export of eight attack submarines, Hu said, was aimed at promoting China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, in which Pakistan is the fulcrum. China is building an economic corridor to Pakistan under the plan, through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and is investing in developing the Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea which is being billed as the OBOR’s centre point.
The news comes closely after India closed a deal from Russia leasing advanced submarines. This clearly states that Pakistan is all set to give tough competition in defence platform and doesn’t want to lack behind its neighbouring counterpart (India).
Recently, in a deal reportedly worth close to $2 billion, India is set to acquire a second Akula 2 nuclear powered attack submarine from Russia. The deal was signed on the sidelines of the BRICS summit which was held in Goa.
It can also be stated that though China is pretending to maintain a healthy relationship with India as recently both India and China participated in a joint military operation drill which was held at Ladakh to boost ties, in the other hand it is supporting India’s biggest enemies in recent times.