December 20, 2018

Belt and Road and military jets in Pakistan

The New York Times has a scoop: Since Trump announced (via Twitter, of course) on January 1 that the U.S. would “No more!” give aid to Pakistan, China has unsurprisingly swooped in to help out its “all-weather friend.”

But that help wasn’t just economic, but military-related. And it was formally identified as part of the Belt and Road initiative, which is supposed to be purely an economic project of building roads and bridges and more harmonious trading relationships across Asia and beyond. The Times reports (porous paywall):

According to the undisclosed proposal drawn up by the Pakistani Air Force and Chinese officials at the start of the year, a special economic zone under CPEC [the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, officially part of the Belt and Road] would be created in Pakistan to produce a new generation of fighter jets. For the first time, navigation systems, radar systems and onboard weapons would be built jointly by the countries at factories in Pakistan.

The proposal, confirmed by officials at the Ministry of Planning and Development, would expand China and Pakistan’s current cooperation on the JF-17 fighter jet, which is assembled at Pakistan’s military-run Kamra Aeronautical Complex in Punjab Province…

The plans are in the final stages of approval, but the current government is expected to rubber stamp the project, officials in Islamabad say.


Other recent Belt and Road-related news and analysis:

Maldives owes China $1.4bn, says finance minister / Nikkei Asian Review

The Maldives' Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer said Thursday that the island nation owes a total of $1.4 billion to China, the same amount that India had pledged in financial aid to the newly elected President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.”

China-Led $2.6 Billion Kenya Highway Project Stalls / Caixin (paywall)
A $2.6 billion China-led highway project in Kenya has been suspended after one of the Chinese builders said it didn’t receive an advance payment, highlighting the risk of such projects. The setback for the consortium, led by Guizhou Transportation Planning Survey & Design Academic Co. Ltd. , comes as many Chinese infrastructure builders, including private enterprises, have rushed into the African continent in recent years.”

How Asia Fell Out of Love With China’s Belt and Road Initiative / Bloomberg (porous paywall)

—Lucas Niewenhuis

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