New Delhi: In a development that's expected to trigger concern in India, China has handed over two ships to the Pakistani navy to help safeguard the Gwadar port which is being modernized by Beijing as part of a 46-bilion dollar project.
- Gwadar port is key to $46 billion investment by China in Pakistan
- Chinese navy sends 2 ships to help guard the port
- Pakistan has to protect Chinese investment in roads, rail lines, ports
The deep-water port in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan is key to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that also encompasses roads and energy projects.
China handed over the two ships to the Pakistan Navy yesterday for joint security.
Recently built in China and equipped with state-of-the-art guns, the ships will be part of Pakistan Navy and also used to protect the sea-lanes in the Arabian Sea.
A ceremony was held in Gwadar where Chinese officials handed them over to their Pakistani counterparts.
"The Chinese ships have become part of the Pakistan Navy from today," Vice Admiral Hussaini said, adding that the navy would become stronger with the induction of the ships.
Balochistan is home to a huge ethnic nationalist insurgency and protecting billions of dollars of Chinese investment in roads, railways and pipelines is a huge challenge. Pakistan has raised a dedicated security force to protect CPEC projects.
China had earlier suggested that it would not assign its naval ships to Gwadar, a move that would be seen by both Delhi and the US as an aggressive measure in an area strategically crucial to India.