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BEIJING: Under an agreement, China will supply most modern warships and fighter jets to Pakistan. According to information, Beijing has started building an advanced warship that would be exported to Pakistan under a defence agreement between the neighboring countries. Quoting China State Shipbuilding Corp — one of the largest state-owned defence contractor — China Daily reported that the construction of the ship had started in the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai and is a version of China’s most advanced warship.

Though the Chinese corporation did not specify the type, China Daily quoted Pakistan Navy as saying that the ship’s class is Type 054AP, that is based on China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s Type 054A frigate. Pakistan has ordered four such ships, the newspaper said, quoting a statement by the Pakistan Navy. In June last year, Pakistan Navy had announced that it was purchasing two multirole Type 054A frigates from China for bolstering its war-fighting capability. The navy had said that Pakistan’s fleet of Type054Awarships would grow to four by 2021.

 The PLA Navy has about 30 of the Type 054A ships, each of which has a loaded displacement of 4,000 metric tons and is equipped with advanced radars and missiles. According to a researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, Cao Weidong, it appeared that the equipment installed on the ships will be Chinese, which shows China’s “progress in the industry and the Pakistani Navy’s confidence in our technology and capability”. Previously, Pakistan would always ask its Chinese contractors to install Western radars and weaponry as it believed that West’s technology was superior to China’s, Weidong said. “I believe the reason they chose our type isthat oursis one of the few that can carry out all of the air-defence, anti-ship and anti-submarine tasks,” he said, adding that he believed that the ships will improve Pakistan’s naval defence.

The warship will be China’s largest and most powerful vessel export. “The service of Type 054APs will double the combat power of the Pakistani Navy’s surface fleet,” Chinese sources have commented. An insider in China’s shipbuilding sector with knowledge of the Type 054AP program told China Daily on condition of anonymity that the ship is the largest and most powerful combat vessel China has ever exported. “Based on pictures circulating on the internet, the ship will have vertical launch cells that can fire Chinese HQ-16 air-defense missiles and other kinds of missiles. Vertical launch cells will bring flexibility to the user in terms of weapons portfolio, thus giving it a stronger fighting capability,” he said, adding that the Type 054AP is the best frigate Pakistan can access in the international market.

 “The service of Type 054APs will double the combat power of the Pakistani Navy’s surface fleet,” he said. Fighter-Jets According to ‘EurAsian Times’ report, China rejected US media reports that claimed that it has hatched a secret plan to build fighter jets and other military hardware in Pakistan as part of the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Baluchistan with China’s Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Islamabad datelined report in the New York Times said Pakistani Air Force and Chinese officials were putting the final touches to the secret proposal. “Chinese officials have repeatedly said the Belt and Road is purely an economic project with peaceful intent. But with its plan for Pakistan, China is for the first time explicitly tying a Belt and Road proposal to its military ambitions — and confirming the concerns of a host of nations who suspect the infrastructure initiative is really about helping China project armed might,” the report said. “According to our information the relevant report is not true,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, told a media briefing when asked about the report, which coincided with the eighth Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting of the CPEC during which both sides signed an agreement to expand industrial cooperation in diverse fields and attract investment in special economic zones. Hua said the CPEC is an important framework for cooperation bearing the long-term interests in mind. All-weather friends and close allies, China and Pakistan have been jointly building the J-17 Thunder, a single seater multi-role combat aircraft. Pakistan has been eyeing a number of new advanced Chinese jets including the stealth fighter.