Pakistan contributes to China’s growth

Posted by Admin On Friday, 19 April 2013 0 comments

China’s recent accession to the top five global arms exporters may alarm Western strategic planners seeking to contain its military rise, but Pakistan has reason to celebrate. Farhan Bokhari reports
China has replaced the United Kingdom in fifth position behind the United States, Russia, Germany and France as the world’s largest exporters of weapons, according to the annual report on the global arms trade by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), released in March. The rise is largely due to growing arms exports to Pakistan, which according to SIPRI, are likely to continue.
“Pakistan – which accounted for 55% of Chinese arms exports – is likely to remain the largest recipient of Chinese arms in the coming years due to large outstanding and planned orders for combat aircraft, submarines and frigates,” the SIPRI report said.
Defence ties between the two countries have combined materiel sales and shared geopolitical interests – not least a common enemy in India and a mutual suspicion of the United States. The latter is of particular interest as it was a US embargo in 1966 that first led China to become a materiel supplier to Pakistan in the form of MiG fighter aircraft.
The 1966 MiG sale followed the US decision to withhold further arms sales and spare parts in response to Pakistan’s use of US weapons in its 1965 war with India. “The historical moment of 1966 has created the vital and indispensable relationship between Pakistan and China,” a senior Pakistan military officer toldIHS Jane’s .
Chinese green light
More recently, Pakistan’s military officers point to the United States’ 1990 decision to impose sanctions over its violation of the Pressler Amendment – a US law put in place to guard against Islamabad’s development of nuclear weapons.
The most visible and high-profile consequence of the sanctions triggered by the amendment was a US decision to withhold the delivery of 28 Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter aircraft, for which Pakistan had made a partial payment.
In an act of further defiance, Pakistan conducted its first nuclear tests in May 1998 – just three weeks after a series of similar tests were carried out by India.
Within months of the US decision on the F-16s, Pakistani nationalists began denouncing Washington for its “broken promises”.”We had people paint crude images of F-16s on the back of trucks alongside anti-US slogans,” recalled a senior Pakistani diplomat.
Behind the scenes, discussions between the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) to jointly manufacture a new fighter aircraft were under way. On the drawing board was an upgraded version of the F-7: a Chinese variant of the Soviet MiG-21. Those discussions eventually bore fruit when the idea of a jointly manufactured aircraft became a reality in the form of the JF-17 Thunder.
A single-engined light fighter aircraft designed by Chengdu with assistance from MiG, the JF-17 was Pakistan’s first experience of manufacturing fighter aircraft. So far, the PAF has produced about 40 JF-17s at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) north of Islamabad, but there are plans to eventually manufacture up to 150 aircraft. While it was originally mainly an assembly and test-flight facility, PAC is now manufacturing 60% of the airframe and 80% of the avionics.
Although the JF-17 was initially visualised as a second line of defence to fly alongside the US-manufactured F-16, senior PAF officers said they do not discount the possibility of the PAF one day relying almost exclusively on China for its frontline fighters.
The PAF has previously revealed discussions with China of the purchase of up to 36 Chengdu J-10 fighter aircraft, although IHS Jane’s understands that a final agreement has been on hold since early 2012 due to Pakistan’s fraught finances. One way to finance the J-10 purchase could be to export the JF-17s in partnership with China to third countries.
In early 2012 IHS Jane’s reported that China and Pakistan expect to sell 300 JF-17s to markets across Africa, Asia and the Middle East by 2017, marketing the aircraft as a cost-effective alternative to surplus US Air Force or other second-hand F-16s that they might otherwise consider.
In mid-2012 Pakistan’s ambassador to Indonesia was quoted by Indonesian media confirming that Islamabad had made an offer to sell a batch of JF-17s to the Indonesian Air Force, which faces this situation.
While the JF-17′s development is one outcome of closer strategic ties, Western defence officials say the largest single defence contract between China and Pakistan is yet to come. The Pakistan Navy and China have been in discussions for the past two years over the potential purchase of up to six new Chinese submarines, although neither country has confirmed the types of boats under consideration.
In February IHS Jane’s reported that the China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Corporation (CSOC) had offered rare information on the export version of China’s latest conventionally powered submarine, the S20 or Yuan class.
Western defence officials say the Pakistan Navy’s previous experience of operating Khalid-class (Agosta 90B) submarines purchased from France in the 1990s gives it the ability to add modern systems that are currently not standard features on the S20.
The systems mentioned include the air independent propulsion (AIP) system installed on the Agosta 90B boats.
Tri-service arms provider
The PN has also received Azmat-class fast-attack craft, 63 m-long, 560-tonne vessels based on Houjian-class (Type 037/2) missile craft in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
Designed to carry eight C-802A (YJ-83/CSS-N-8 ‘Saccade’) surface-to-surface missiles, two 25 mm guns and two 12.7 mm machine guns, two have been built – one in China and the second by Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW) under a technology transfer agreement.

China also previously agreed to sell four Sword-class (F-22P) frigates – a modification of the Jiangwei II (Type 053H3) design – to the Pakistan Navy in a similar deal involving collaboration between KSEW and Chinese shipbuilders.
China has either jointly produced or provided the Pakistan Army with main battle tanks in the form of Al Khalid (MBT 2000), Al Zarrar (Type 59/59M), Type 69 and Type 85-IIAP, artillery, including Norinco 122 mm Type 83/D-30 howitzers, and indigenously produced Anza Mk II air-defence systems based on the China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC) Qian Wei 1 (QW-1) Vanguard surface-to-air missile and the Anza Mk III based on the QW-2.
East looks west
In addition to meeting the defence hardware needs of Pakistan’s armed forces, Beijing also appears to be working to further solidify its strategic ties with Islamabad.
In February the Pakistan government formally handed over the management of the Gwadar deep sea port in southwestern Pakistan to a Chinese operator.
The move followed a decision to revoke an earlier contract with Port of Singapore Authority (PSA), which signed a 40-year management contract for Gwadar in 2007 but had been criticised by Pakistani officials for failing to fulfil promises to develop the facility. The facility is about 700 km west of Karachi but only 80 km east of the Iranian border and close to the Gulf.
Other sources said that Pakistan Navy intransigence over its development of a nearby base, PNS Akram, had blocked PSA’s development opportunities at the site. Pakistan Navy senior navy officers who have spoken toIHS Jane’s have denied these claims.
Senior Pakistani government officials told IHS Jane’s that the contract for Gwadar was a significant attempt by Pakistan to lure Beijing into establishing a larger presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
Some reports seen by IHS Jane’s have suggested that China has promised Pakistan that it will spend USD1 billion to develop a road and train network linking Gwadar to western China.
This will radically reduce the travel time between China and the Gulf region and reduce China’s dependence on the energy supplies travelling through the South China Sea, through which 80% of its gas and oil currently passes.
China has so far resisted Pakistan’s overtures to establish a naval presence at Gwadar, but the strategic advantages of diversifying its energy lines of communication will not be lost on Beijing.
That closer ties with Pakistan also complicate India’s plans to develop strategic dominance of the IOR is a definite bonus for China, while Pakistan’s decision to pursue Chinese co-operation rather than rely on US technology offers a potential path for other developing nations that are leery of the threat of Western embargoes.
Farhan Bokhari is a JDW Correspondent, based in Islamabad. 
Additional reporting by James Hardy IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly Asia-Pacific Editor, London


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