Pakistan and China to step up defence cooperation despite existing challenges

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BEIJING: Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa with Vice Chairperson Central Military Commission General Zhang Youxia during his visit to China. - ISPR photo

Monitoring Desk

ISLAMABAD: As tensions between China and the West deepen, military leadership of China and Pakistan on Sunday stepped up their cooperation building on what the official statement described “their strategic partnership” in the challenging times.
A high-powered Pakistani delegation comprising senior military officials from all three services – army, navy and air force – visited China from June 9 to 12 as part of the meeting of Pakistan China Joint Military Cooperation Committee (PCJMCC), which has an apex committee. Pakistan’s army chief and vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission are part of the committee.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa joined the tri-service military delegation on Sunday and attended the apex committee’s meeting along with the top Chinese generals.
The high-level military interaction between the two countries came at a critical juncture when tensions are deepening between China and the United Sates.
Earlier this week, the US and Chinese defense ministers held a face to face meeting in Singapore on the sidelines of a regional security dialogue but the two sides exchanged barbs over many issues including Taiwan and Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Pakistan has also faced significant pressure from the West to change its stance on Russia-Ukraine conflict. Islamabad has so far walked a tightrope even after the change of government.
A statement issued by military’s media wing, the ISPR, on Sunday said the tri-service delegation held wide ranging discussions with senior officials of Chinese military and other government departments.
The apex committee meeting was held on June 12 wherein Pakistani side was headed by army chief General Bajwa while Chinese side was led by General Zhang Youxia, Vice Chairman Central Military Commission of China.
Both sides discussed their perspectives on international and regional security situation, and expressed satisfaction on defence cooperation between the two countries, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations.
It further said that Pakistan and China reaffirmed their strategic partnership in challenging times and agreed to continue regular exchange of perspectives on issues of mutual interest. Both sides also vowed to enhance their training, technology and counterterrorism cooperation at tri service level.
Observers believe military diplomacy and military to military cooperation has assumed greater significance in view of the fast changing developments.
The current Pakistan army chief is the only military leader who visited China on the invitation of the Chinese president.
The visit is part of Pak-China Joint Military Cooperation Committee (PCJMCC), Which has an apex committee – the highest body in military cooperation.
The committee has two sub committees that include joint cooperation Military Affairs (JCMA) and Joint Cooperation Military Equipment & training (JCMET).
Relations between Pakistan and China have shown great improvement in recent years in all fields including defence.
Pakistan now heavily relies on China for military equipment. Only recently China provided Pakistan with J-10 fighter jets. Pakistan is the only country to have been provided the war planes since their induction into the Chinese military showing deepening military ties between the two sides.
There have been pressures on Pakistan to maintain some balance in the relationship between China and the West. But given the strategic interests of the US in the region and threats of new cold war, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Pakistan to maintain that balance.