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China, Pakistan naval exercise concludes

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KARACHI (PTI): China and Pakistan on Tuesday concluded a nine-day mega naval exercise during which they carried out advance-level joint drills and naval manoeuvres 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.

Deputy Commander of Southern Theatre Command People's Liberation Army (Navy), Vice Admiral Dong Jun was chief guest at the closing ceremony at the Karachi Naval Dockyard. Commander of Pakistan Fleet, Vice Admiral Asif Khaliq was also present, Pakistan Navy said in a statement.

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 manoeuvres in North Arabian Sea.

The harbour and sea activities of the exercise were also witnessed by senior officials from both the navies.

Exercise Sea Guardians-2020 spanning over nine days 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.

Addressing the ceremony, Vice Admiral expressed satisfaction over the "mutually benefiting and professionally rewarding conduct of the exercise".

Deputy Commander of Southern Theatre Command PLA, Vice Admiral Dong hoped that the exercise will further enhance bilateral relationships and cooperation in general and navies in particular.

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, a move seen as New Delhi sending a clear signal to its two neighbours.

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 US$ 60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to China's Xinjiang province, providing a key land route to China to access the warm waters of 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.

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