Being the major arm supplier, China becomes the shadow of Pakistan’s confidence

New Delhi, October 1: The US and China shared almost equal portion of Pakistan’s arms imports. China supplies 63 per cent of Pakistan’s armaments, dropping US to second place with 19%, as Pakistan mulls a response to India’s strike on terror camps across the border.

The heightened demand for arms from Pakistan, helped China at large to become the world’s third-largest arms exporter. Beijing’s biggest buyer Pakistan buys 35 per cent of the China’s arms and ammunition, according to a February 2016 report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The military supplies are bolstered by unwavering support at a time of heightened tension with India and faltering ties with the US. There was a 73% drop in US security aid over four years to 2015, reported The Wire in August 2016. The US had also cancelled the subsidised sale of eight F-16 fighters.

Last month, Pakistan’s Ministry of Defense Production had made a contract with China for the purchase of eight conventional diesel-electric submarines, which will cost between $4 billion to $5 billion (Rs. 25,600 crore to Rs. 33,200 crore). This counts to China’s biggest deal of defense export.

The submarines may have nuclear strategic capability. They could be used to launch nuclear-tipped land attack cruise missiles, providing Pakistan with a partial second-strike capability to rival India’s submarine-launched nuclear ballistic missiles.

The submarines are the latest among the several big budget arms purchases by Pakistan.

Some others are sited below:

1. China and Pakistan had jointly developed about 250 to 300 JF-17 fighter planes, framing the backbone of the Pakistani Air Force. Nigeria has signed a memorandum of understanding to purchase JF-17 aircraft, which make Pakistan an exporter of arms, according to IHS Jane’s, an aerospace publication.

2. Four 2,5000-ton Zulfiquar-class frigates at a cost of $500 to $750 million. Three of these were made in China, the fourth in Karachi.

3. Four 560-ton Azmat-class fast attack craft, essentially missile boats armed with eight C-802 anti-ship missiles meant for defense in the coastal areas. Three of four were manufactured in Pakistan.

4. 600 Al Khalid tanks produced in Pakistan with the help of the Pakistan Army’s Armoured Corps. They are variants of Chinese Type 90-II tank.

5. Nine HQ-16 medium range surface-to-air missile systems, with an intercept range of 40 km at a cost of $600 million.

6. Four Karakoram Eagle airborne early warning & control aircraft (AWACS), at a cost of $278 million.

From 2011 to 2015, China sold $8.4 billion worth arms, overtaking the established arms exporters like France ($8 billion) and Germany ($6.7 billion). While the leaders are still the US ($47 billion) and Russia ($36.2 billion).

China’s share in the international arms exports market has risen from 3.6% in 2006-10 to 5.9% in 2011-15. France’s market share has declined from 7.1 per cent to 5.6 per cent and Germany’s, from 11% to 4.7% during this period.

The period coincides with China’s emergence as a major global power, seeking to challenge US hegemony across various areas and with enough heft to keep India unbalanced, either directly or through Pakistan. IANS