After establishing its first overseas military base in Djibouti, in the horn of Africa in the Indian Ocean, China is now in talks with Pakistan to build its second overseas military base close to Iran’s Chabahar port, PTI quoted an official as saying. China plans to push for greater maritime capabilities along strategic sea routes and if the deal to acquire Pakistani military base goes through, the new facility will come up at Jiwani close to Iran border in the Gulf of Oman only 85km from China’s Gwadar port in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s decision to suspend its military aid to Pakistan is helping boost close ties between China and Pakistan, a report in the state-run Global Times said. The US administration had, a few days ago, withheld $1 billion military aid to Pakistan and Trump accused it of providing safe havens to terrorists.
“Both Beijing and Islamabad have the ability to build a joint naval and air facility in Pakistan, but it is unnecessary at this time,” a South Asian studies expert told PTI on establishing a military base at Jiwani.
He also added that it could be a backup plan in response to the Indo-Pacific strategy of the US and its allies and that if the US and its allies push their Indo-Pacific strategy to the extreme, China will surely carry out a plan with Pakistan to ensure the security of sea routes.
The report also said that Islamabad has allowed Chinese currency in bilateral trade and financing transactions as China has stepped up its investments in the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The first phase of the strategically located Chabahar port was inaugurated in December by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. India, Iran and Afghanistan are committed to developing the port into a massive project that can handle a cargo of 80 million tonnes — the existing capacity is just 2.5 million tonnes.
(With inputs from PTI)