According to a recent report by The Pentagon, “China most likely will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan.”
Sources in Pakistan say that Islamabad invited China to build a naval facility on its territory back in 2011. Pakistan is also expected to play an important role in China’s “Belt and Road,” a $1.4-trillion global trade plan that analysts say could shift the center of global economy and challenge the current US-led hegemonic order. One potential location for a base is the port of Gwadar, a key location in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, while Jiwani and Ormara are also potential sites. China has not confirmed reports of its planned military base in Pakistan.
Speaking at the welcoming ceremony hosted by the Pakistani side, Commander of the Chinese navy fleet Rear Admiral Shen Hao said the visit will further promote the understanding and mutual trust between the two peoples, and boost the cooperation and friendship between the two countries.
Shen hoped that the pragmatic cooperation and communication between the two navies will be further strengthened so as to contribute to regional stability and world peace and play an active role in promoting common development.
Meanwhile, General Fang Fenghui, member of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) and General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Pakistani chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), met in Beijing on June 15 to exchange views on international and regional security situations and to discuss deepening military ties between the two countries.
It is the 12th round of defense and security talks held by China and Pakistan, according to Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media arm of the Pakistan Armed Forces. China’s Ministry of Defense reported that that the talks “achieved positive results.” Fang noted that “bilateral military relations between the two countries have maintained a healthy and stable development momentum.”
Chinese military authorities say they “will promote the development of the Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism in Counter Terrorism by Afghanistan-China-Pakistan-Tajikistan Armed Forces, elevate the level of cooperation between the two militaries and jointly maintain the security and stable development of the region.”
China backed Pakistan’s admission to SCO
Meanwhile, under Chinese patronage, on 9 June, 2017, Pakistan was granted membership to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Pakistan had been its observer since 2005. India, backed by Russia, also joined as a full member and with the entry of the two countries, this increased this organization’s reach to South Asia from Eurasia and Central Asia for the first time.
While it would be naïve to imply that Pakistan is completely abandoning the US and embracing China, what is certain is that Washington-Islamabad ties are not as strong as they were in the past decades. But given new US administration’s apparent discontent with some of China’s foreign policies, including trade and its actions in the disputed South China Sea, the increasing proximity between Beijing and Islamabad is a pointer to waning US influence on Pakistan