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China to co-produce ballistic missiles, aircraft with Pakistan after slamming India's weapons programme

China and Pakistan have discussed co-producing ballistic missiles and advanced military aircraft as the new Pakistani Army Chief made his first visit to China, State media reported on Friday.

This comes barely months after Beijing blasted India's development of ballistic missiles and slammed the fourth test of Agni V as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

China had provided "authorisation to Pakistan to produce ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-ship missiles and main battle tanks in Pakistan", the Global Times, a tabloid published by the official People's Daily, reported, citing Song Zhongping, a former officer of the PLA Second Artillery Corps (now renamed the PLA Rocket Force). He said other weapons exchanges would be discussed besides missiles, including the "mass production of FC-1 Xiaolong, a lightweight and multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the two countries".


CHINA'S FOREIGN MINISTRY UNAWARE?

China's Foreign Ministry said it was not aware of any missile cooperation agreement, which was also not mentioned in the Defence Ministry's official statement of the meetings. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said: "The Chinese military released information on meetings between the Pakistan Chief of Army Staff with his [Chinese] counterpart. From the news release we didn't see anything on an agreement on ballistic missiles. What I can tell you is China and Pakistan maintain normal defence exchanges and relevant cooperation."

The report, however, is likely to raise eyebrows, as after India's Agni V test in December Beijing then referenced the 1998 UN Security Council Resolution 1172, a non-binding resolution that called on India and Pakistan, after their nuclear tests, to also cease tests of ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The Foreign Ministry said then that the "UN Security Council has explicit regulations on whether India can develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. China always maintains that preserving the strategic balance and stability in South Asia is conducive to peace and prosperity of regional countries and beyond."

Asked if China believed that this applied to Pakistan's missile programme as well, Hua said, "Generally speaking, all UN members have obligations and responsibility to observe UN resolutions. Our position on the strategic balance in South Asia is consistent."


PAK ARMY CHIEF MET TOP PLA OFFICIALS

On Thursday, Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa met top PLA officials including Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission General Fan Changlong, General Fang Fenghui, chief of the Joint Staff Department, and Army Commander General Li Zuocheng.

Unusually for a military chief, he also met Politburo Standing Committee member Zhang Gaoli, the seventh-ranked leader.

Sources said this underlined the political support to push the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which China has billed as a flagship project of Xi Jinping's pet One Belt, One Road initiative.


BOTH PARTIES DISCUSS ANTI-TERRORISM COOPERATION

The Pakistani Army Chief pledged to protect Chinese personnel and projects in the CPEC. Shortly after taking over in November, Bajwa visited the special security division of 15,000 troops being raised by Pakistan to protect the CPEC and spoke of "hostile" forces against the project.

On Thursday, both sides also discussed "anti-terrorism cooperation at the meeting, vowing to resolutely strike against terrorist forces including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement". "Pakistan's military is willing to deepen the cooperation with the Chinese army and fully support the Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism in Counter Terrorism by Afghanistan-China-Pakistan-Tajikistan Armed Forces," Bajwa said.


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