Pakistan and China have reportedly inked an intelligence-sharing pact, a month after they raised concerns over the BECA signed by India and the US. The latest deal is aimed at helping Pakistan to track the movements of Indian forces in the border regions.
During his two-day visit to Islamabad, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe met his Pakistani counterpart General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of the Army Staff, to ink a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
While the details of the pact aren’t officially announced, several media reports claim that it includes a commitment to sharing intelligence to help Pakistan track Indian forces in the region.
The discussion between the two sides included “matters of mutual interest, regional security, and enhanced bilateral defense collaboration,” said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of Pakistan’s Army.
“An MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was also signed for enhancement of defense cooperation between both the Armies,” the statement said.
“We have been standing together all along, and our relations will be no different in [the] wake of future challenges,” the Pakistani army chief said.
General Wei Fenghe, Minister of National Defence, #China met #COAS. During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, regional security and enhanced bilateral defence collaboration were discussed. Visiting dignitary ack & aprc Pak Army’s sincere efforts 4 regional peace & (1/3) pic.twitter.com/mIuijCXD88
— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) November 30, 2020
A month ago, New Delhi and Washington had signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), under which India will be able to access American capabilities including geospatial intelligence for targeting enemy positions with pinpoint accuracy and better surveillance of adversaries – Pakistan and China.
Under BECA, India and the US will be able to share data including maps, nautical and aeronautical charts, commercial and other unclassified imagery, geodetic, geophysical, geomagnetic, and gravity data, reported Economic Times.
At the time, both Pakistan and China had raised concerns over the pact. The Pakistan Foreign Office said: “Pakistan has taken note of the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement. Pakistan has been consistently highlighting the threats posed to strategic stability in South Asia as a result of the provision of advanced military hardware, technologies, and knowledge to India.”
The Chinese media had then said the under BECA, Indian troops would have access to better tactical imagery during battles and they could use more American weapons, but it would be impossible for India to use outside forces to bridge the military gap with China, nor would the BECA give India an advantage in China-India military conflicts.
Now, a month later, Chinese state media termed this cooperation with its “all-weather strategic cooperative partner” as “natural” in order to “not only keep high-level strategic mutual trust but also deepen their military and defense cooperation”.
…An MoU was also signed for enhancement of defence cooperation between both the Armies. Minister of National Defence, laid a floral wreath at Yadgar-e-Shuhada . A smartly turned out contingent of Pakistan Army presented the Guard of Honour to visiting dignitary.( 4/4)
— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) November 30, 2020
It further said that these interactions don’t necessarily have any connection to developments involving India.
New Delhi and Washington have recalibrated their ties in the past few years. While Russia has been a long-standing arms exporter to India, New Delhi has diversified its arms deals in the past decade.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report, the Russian import of arms declined from 72% to 56%. between 2015 and 2019. The US emerged as India’s second-largest arms supplier during 2010-14 as security ties between the two sides progressed into a strategic partnership.
India was designated as a “Major Defense Partner” (MDP) by Washington that allows the transfer of sophisticated arms from the US.
On the other hand, China accounted for 51% of Pakistan’s arms imports during 2010-14 and 73% during 2015-19. The overall decrease in Pakistan’s arms imports was linked to the US decision to stop military aid to Islamabad in 2018. The US accounted for 30% of Pakistan’s arms imports during 2010-14 but for only 4.1% during 2015–19.
JF 17 fighter jet
Pakistan and China have jointly built a multirole combat aircraft, JF-17. As reported earlier by EurAsian Times, the latest, powered-up version of the JF-17 fighter jet reportedly features technologies used in China’s high-end J-20 fighter jet.
Following the Balakot airstrike last year, the Indian and Pakistani Air Force had a dogfight where an Indian MiG-21 Bison was shot down by the Pakistani Air Force. While India claimed that the American F-16 was used against Mig-21, Pakistan denied the claim saying JF-17 was used.