Islamabad: Three warships of the Chinese navy have docked at Pakistan’s southern port city Karachi on a four-day “goodwill and training” visit as the two all-weather allies step up their strategic ties.
The warships – Chang Chun, Jing Zhou and Chao Hu – of the People’s Liberation Army Navy are part of a task group that will hold a Passage Exercise with the Pakistan Navy ships to enhance interoperability, officials in Karachi said.
The visit will promote understanding and mutual trust between the two nations and their peoples, the commander of the Chinese navy fleet, Rear Admiral Shen Hao, said.
Rear Admiral Shen Hao also added that pragmatic cooperation and communication between the two navies will strengthen regional stability and world peace and play an active role in promoting common development.
A welcome ceremony was organised as the fleet reached in Karachi on a four-day goodwill and training visit on June 10. Karachi is one of the two major ports in southern Pakistan; the other being the Gwadar Port in Balochistan province, which is being built with Chinese assistance.
Reports have previously suggested that China may potentially use the Gwadar Port as an overseas naval facility. Experts believe that CPEC and the Gwadar Port would enhance military capabilities of both China and Pakistan, and increase the Chinese navy’s access to the Arabian Sea. Having a naval base in Gwadar could also allow Chinese vessels to use the port for repair and maintenance of their fleet in the Indian Ocean region.
Also, the Karachi port lies on the route of the controversial USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that links the Gwadar Port to China’s Xinjiang province. India has objected to the CPEC – which is a part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road intiatiave – as it runs through Gilgit and Baltistan region of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.