BEIJING: Defending China's move to sell eight submarines to Pakistan, the Chinese official media today said the deal will not break the Indo-Pak military balance.
"...It will take eight to 10 years for Pakistan to incorporate the eight submarines from China into its combat capacity," an article in state-run Global Times said, the first comment in the Chinese media on the deal.
"It will be extremely hard to break the military balance of India and Pakistan with the latest acquisition. Pakistan is actually trying to prevent the gap between its naval strength and India's from widening," it said.
"The $4-5 billion deal (with Pakistan) is reportedly China's largest ever arms deal and can be a milestone in China's arms export. Some consider the deal as a new benchmark for China's arms trade that grows with its increasing military strength," it said.
Dismissing the concerns that the sale will alter the military balance in South Asia, the article said the Indian Navy has two aircraft carriers in service and is building a new indigenous one. It has 15 submarines, almost twice that of Pakistan.
"More importantly, India's domestically developed nuclear-powered submarine, INS Arihant, has undergone several sea trials and will soon enter service. New Delhi is also planning at least six more nuclear-powered submarines," it said.
"Besides, the construction of submarines will be carried out in China and Pakistan simultaneously with four built in Karachi, which means China may transfer the submarine construction technology to Pakistan. But this is a proper pattern of cooperation that is accepted internationally," it said.
Pakistan opted to buy Chinese subs after it failed to acquire new-type conventional submarines from France and Germany due to factors like price and technology transfer, it said.
"It finally picked China's conventional submarines out of the burning need to protect its maritime security and because of the high quality but reasonable price of Chinese products," the article said without disclosing the details.
Strangely the article written by Qian Feng, councillor of the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies, quotes Pakistan Federal Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain's announcement about the submarine deal with China, which Beijing or its official media is yet to officially confirm.