Daily Briefs

Photo : http://eng.chinamil.com.cn

15 January 2020, Wednesday 

Pakistan and China concluded their sixth joint Naval exercises

PR Daily Brief | D. Suba Chandran

What happened?
Pakistan and China concluded their sixth joint Naval exercises on 14 January 2020. The Sea Guardians 2020, according to a South China Morning Post report, “took place in the northern reaches of the waterway and along the Pakistani shoreline” involving “special forces, warships, aerial assets and, for the first time, submarines in a series of live-fire exercises.”

Vice Admiral Dong Jun, the Deputy Commander of Southern Theatre Command PLA (Navy) Vice Admiral Asif Khaliq, the Commander of Pakistan Fleet took part in the concluding ceremony, that took place for nine days in the Arabian Sea. A note from the China Military quoted Vice Admiral Dong Jun stating, “We are confident to make the ‘Sea Guardians’ a new and excellent exercise brand in our military-to-military exchanges with Pakistan. It will make greater contributions to safeguarding the common security interests of the two countries and defending regional and world peace.” (http://eng.chinamil.com.cn/view/2020-01/14/content_9716985.htm) 

According to the China Military note, “Sea Guardians 2020 is of the largest scale in the history of China-Pakistan joint naval exercises, with a large diversity of participating troops and wide coverage of maritime subjects. The Chinese participating troops mainly come from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command Navy, with five vessels including destroyer, frigate, supply ship and submarine rescue ship, two carrier-based helicopters, and more than 60 special operations members. The Pakistani side assigned two Zulfiquar-class F22P/F21 frigates, two fast attack craft (FAC), one fixed-wing anti-submarine patrol aircraft, two carrier-based helicopters, and about 60 special operations.”

What is the background?
While a section views the naval exercises between China and Pakistan in the background of the recent tensions in the Middle East involving Iran and the US, it may not be an accurate reflection.

For an exercise of this magnitude to happen involving two navies, it should have been planned earlier, with a clear plan. Hence, recent developments in the Middle East cannot be a trigger for the latest joint navy exercises between Pakistan and China. The fact that this is a series underlines a different story – of evolving interests between the two countries in the maritime domain involving the Arabian Sea.

Earlier, China and Pakistan concluded a month-long military training exercise code-named Warrior VII in early January 2020. According to a China Military note, the exercise that was started during the first week of December aimed at “counter-terrorism operations and target defense” and to “ carry out intensive training on organization and coordination, close combat skills, battlefield reconnaissance and maneuver penetration, in a bid to test the troops' skills and tactics, and improve the quality of military training and combat preparation.” (http://eng.chinamil.com.cn/view/2019-12/06/content_9691028.htm)

The PLA Navy is looking at the joint exercises as a part of enhancing their presence, their ability to coordinate exercises with the Pakistan Navy and importantly to integrate the technologies between the two Navies. Another note from the China Military quoted Senior Captain Ye Dan, commander of the Chinese naval fleet, commenting: “The joint exercise promoted the deep integration of the technologies and tactics of the two navies and deepened the exchanges and cooperation between the two sides.” He was also quoted to have stated: “The first actual-troop submarine rescue exercise at sea greatly improved the underwater emergency rescue capabilities of the two navies, and also tested and improved the actual combat training level of the formation. The entire formation completed the scheduled subjects and related training plans and laid a good foundation for our new mission.”

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