China and Pakistan on January 14 concluded a nine-day mega naval exercise during which they carried out advance-level joint drills and naval maneuvers in the North Arabian Sea. The sixth ‘Sea Guardians’ exercise took place in the midst of heightened tension between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. Key platforms of both China and Pakistan, including submarines, destroyers and frigates, were part of the exercise.
- During the exercise, Pakistan Navy and PLA (Navy) Flotilla comprising naval platforms and assets along with Marines Corps Detachments carried out advance level joint drills and naval maneuvers in North Arabian Sea.
- The harbour and sea activities of the exercise were also witnessed by senior officials from both navies.
- Exercise Sea Guardians-2020 was designed to share professional experiences on contemporary and non-traditional threats as well as to enhance bilateral cooperation and interoperability between the two navies.
- India had deployed its aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya in the Arabian Sea at the time China and Pakistan were holding the nine-day mega naval exercise in the region.
- China has been expanding its presence in the North Arabian Sea and is developing Pakistan’s deep water Gwadar port in the region.
- Gwadar is being connected through the over $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to China’s Xinjiang province, providing a key land route to China to access the Arabian Sea.
- The Arabian Sea provides entry to the Indian Ocean where China has built a logistics base at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
- In September, the Indian Navy drove out a Chinese PLA ship from India’s Exclusive Economic Zone and had warned that such activities will be dealt with sternly.