China will deploy its naval ships along with Pakistan navy to safeguard the strategic Gwadar port and trade routes under the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a Pakistani official in Karachi has said.
China and Pakistan are currently building the nearly 3,000-km-long economic corridor linking Pakistan's Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with Xinjiang to improve connectivity between the two countries. The move would open up a new and cheaper cargo route for transporting oil to China as well as export of Chinese goods to the Middle East and Africa.
A Pakistan navy official said the role of maritime forces has increased since the country has made the Gwadar port operational and speeded up economic activities under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
"China would also deploy its naval ships in coordination with Pakistan navy to safeguard the port and trade under the CPEC," the unnamed official was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.
In the past, China has shied away from saying that it plans to deploy its naval ships in Gwadar, a move which could raise alarm in the US and India.
Experts feel that CPEC and the Gwadar port would enhance the military capabilities of both China and Pakistan, and make it possible for the Chinese navy to easily access the Arabian Sea.
Having a naval base in Gwadar could allow Chinese vessels to use the port for repair and maintenance of their fleet in the Indian Ocean region. Such a foothold would be the first overseas location offering support to the Chinese navy for future missions.