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SOURCE: Anadolu Agency

Pakistan Friday said it was going to procure two warships for its navy from China in another sign of expanding bilateral security ties.

An agreement for the procurement of the ships armed with long-range missiles and latest weaponry was inked between China Shipbuilding Trading Company Ltd. and the Ministry of Defense Production in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, said a statement from the Pakistani Navy.

The statement, however, did not elaborate on further agreement details, including the cost.

“With the conclusion of this contract, the Pakistani Navy will now have a total of 4 Type-054 A ships in its Fleet by 2021,” the statement said.

“The induction of these ships will substantially enhance the Pakistani Navy’s warfighting capabilities while effectively contributing towards maritime security operations in the region,” it added.

Type-054 A is an extremely potent and state of the art warship equipped with latest weapons, including long-range missiles and hi-tech sensors, capable to undertake operations in all domains of naval warfare, it further said.

China has long been Pakistan’s largest defense partner with the latter’s growing reliance on the former in recent years following strained ties between Washington and Islamabad.

Pakistan sealed a $5 billion deal with China in 2016 for the acquisition of 8 Chinese Yuan-class type 041 diesel submarines by 2028 to “address force imbalance” with its arch-rival India.

With a bilateral trade volume of $15 billion, China is also assisting to prop up the tottering economy of this South Asian nuclear nation.

Also, Islamabad is reportedly going to receive $1.5 billion from Beijing to shore up its depleting foreign reserves, which currently stand at slightly over $16 billion.

Pakistan and China are already actively perusing a $64 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key cog in Beijing’s ambitious One Road-One Belt project.

The mega project, signed in 2015, aims to connect China’s strategically important northwestern Xinxiang province to Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar port through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.

The economic corridor will not only provide China cheaper access to Africa and the Middle East but will also earn Pakistan billions of dollars for providing transit facilities to the world’s second-largest economy.