China and Pakistan's joint air force exercise 'Shaheen-VI' was held in Xinjiang from September 5 to 25.
China today put its enduring bonhomie with Pakistan on display -- screening a video of air force pilots from both countries flying war planes together for the first time. The flaunting of closer ties comes as the relation between New Delhi and Islamabad reached a new low over the weekend, with Pakistan trying to pass off a fake photograph as evidence of "Indian brutality" in Kashmir at the United Nations General Assembly.
The 'Shaheen-VI' exercise, which completed five years, was held in Xinjiang from September 5 to 25, said China's Colonel Wu. The two sides, he said, had incorporated many firsts during the exercise - including real combat target practice, "confrontation training" at night and close support operations.
The Chinese air force deployed surveillance radar planes like Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS), J-11 fighters, JH-7 fighter-bombers, KJ-200 ground forces including surface-to-air missiles and radar troops. Pakistan sent JF-17 Thunder fighter jets, being jointly manufactured by both countries, and early warning aircraft for the exercise.
Quoting Chinese President Xi Jinping, Colonel Wu said the Pakistan armed forces were the mainstay of Pakistan-China friendship.
"Speaking of Pakistan, the first word that comes to my mind is 'Iron Pak'," Col Wu Qian told the media. "If we characterise Pakistan-China military-to-military relations," the three key words are, "all-weather brotherhood, high level mutual assistance and support, and deep rooted strategic mutual trust," he was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
It is also seen as support to Pakistan, which had been severely criticised by foreign minister Sushma Swaraj at the United Nations over the weekend.
Emphasizing how the neighbouring country had become the breeding ground of terror, Ms Swaraj said India had marched ahead since Independence, building institutions that are the "pride of the world". Pakistan, in contrast, has only "produced terrorists and terrorist camps... Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hijbul Mujahideen, Haqqani Network," she said.
China had recently designated Jaish-e Mohammad as a terror organization after repeatedly blocking India's efforts for a ban on the terror chief at the UN. But days later, it had reassured Pakistan of its continued support, saying there has been "no change in Chinese policy regarding Pakistan".