In a move that would come as a major cause of concern for India, China is set to take its weapon exchanges with ‘all-weather-ally’ Pakistan a step further. Chinese state media reports that the country was now expected to ‘authorise’ the latter to produce ballistic, cruise, anti-craft and anti-ship missiles, and battle tanks.
According to a report by China’s state-run Global Times, weapon exchanges, including the mass production of FC-1 Xiaolong, a lightweight and multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the two countries, will be furthered after the meeting.
These developments are an outcome of a meeting between Pakistan’s army chief Qamar Bajwa and a top Chinese military official, Fang Fenhui, which took place yesterday.
“China's authorization to Pakistan to produce ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-ship missiles and main battle tanks in Pakistan is also on the agenda,” read the report.
The two sides also agreed to strengthen anti-terrorism cooperation and strike terrorist forces including China’s insurgent East Turkestan Islamic Movement, besides vowing to ensure the safety of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
On Tuesday, Massod Khalid, Pakistani Ambassador to China, said that Pakistan has deployed more than 15,000 troops to protect the CPEC, and the country's navy has raised a contingent for the protection of Gwadar Port.
"As Pakistan faces frequent threats from terrorist forces such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda, military support is necessary to ensure a safe environment for the regions where there is huge investment from China,” said Song Zhongping, a military expert who has served in the Chinese army, to Global Times.
India has been expressing concerns to China and Pakistan over the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passing through sovereign Indian territory.
India’s objection is mainly based over the fact that the CPEC project, key to Beijing's ambitious 'One-Belt, One-Road' initiative, passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir which New Delhi considers as its integral part.