April 20, 2015

Indians duped by Pakistani Rumour of Sale of 8 Submarines from China?

As Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Pakistan today and tomorrow an 8 submarines for Pakistan deal is supposed to be signed. I suspect no firm deal will be signed because expectations in the Indian and international press are based on a Pakistani rumour campaign.

Pakistan has been trying to extract free or reduced price submarines from China for years. Pakistan has used an information loop rumour strategy over the last few weeks to try to pressure China to sell. 

How can Pakistan, with a naval budget of around $750 million(?) per year afford to buy, crew and maintain the 8 for wildly different amounts:
- $250 million to $325 million each to 
- equivalent o$500 million to 625 million each?

The specific aim is to pressure Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign a deal when he visits Pakistan April 20 and 21, 2015. If Pakistan claims a deal has been made then it would need to prove it with details, including:
- numbers of subs sold?
- type of subs? (ie. old Ming or newer Yuan class submarines, not vague "Project" "S-26" of "S-30" designations)
- delivery or building schedule? (when is the first submarine and last to be delivered?)
- are the submarines used or new-build according to Pakistani specifications?


- March 9, 2011 The Hindu “Pak plans to acquire 6 submarines from China” Obviously didn’t happen.

- March 1, 2014  Times of India story  - quoting a Pakistani official proved groundless with no deal made "by end 2014." China didn't sign.

Pakistan times its latest rumour campaign in preparation for President Xi vist:

- March 31, 2015 Dawn article  "ISLAMABAD:  [Pakistani] Naval officials informed the Standing Committee on Defence Monday that the federal government has endorsed a summary to get eight submarines from China." -No Chinese promise.

- April 2, 2015  Discussion board insert - referring to speculative Dawn article No Chinese promise. 

- April 2, 2015 Reuters article  - - Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has approved a deal "years in the making" [but has China approved?] to buy eight submarines from China, a Pakistani government official said on Thursday, in what could be one of China's largest overseas weapons sales once it is signed. The [Pakistani] official...said the deal to buy the diesel-electric submarines would likely be signed by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he visits, "but that is still not final".
"...Asked about the submarines, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying [only said] China and Pakistan were friendly neighbors and that the two sides had normal military exchanges. "I can tell you, relevant cooperation does not violate international convention and accords with China's three principles on military exports," she told a daily news briefing." No Chinese promise.


President Xi has now departed Pakistan and, in line, with my earlier prediction there has been no Chinese mention (that I've seen) of Chinese submarines for Pakistan http://tribune.com.pk/story/873354/chienese-president-xi-jinping-to-address-joint-session/ . The usual Pakistani speculation remains.

Pakistan’s has five medium sized submarines but needs newer submarines to counter India. Pakistan’s flotilla is:

- two Agosta 70s (PNS Hashmat and PNS Hurmat) completed in 1979-1980 – past the usual 30 year in water use-by date - hence probably semi or non-operational, and

- three Agosta 90Bs with completion dates (PNS Khalid (1999), Saad (2002) and Hamza (2006)) As they are AIP, Exocet capable/equipped and the last two built in Pakistan this is quite an achievement.

As Pakistan is more than $60 Billion in debt and has a naval budget of around just $750 million it may not even be able to crew or maintain 4 to 8 extra submarine even if China donated them.

Pakistan has been talking about converting Babur cruise missiles for submarine use but China already has small SLBMs like the JL-1  that might be more appropriate.  

Pakistan may be able to put nuclear warheads on its Exocets.

I think China considers Pakistan too unstable, and uneconomic to give it second strike submarine platforms. Pakistan is also a source of Islamic militancy but China has Islamic terrorism problems. They are not natural allies other than in their joint effort to partially surround India.



lachit said...

a very good morning to me and good night to u.

by the way it was a very informative article on the s.korean submarines u posted earlier.

indians especially wont be affected even if pakistan buys the 8 subs or not because indians will go forward with its submarine aquisitions/development as planned.
even the indian defence minister was of the same opinion.

when did pakistan ever had the hard cash to buy defence equipments.

china might end up giving soft loans for buying 4 subs at the max.

also chinese subs are maintenance intensive.if pakistanis end up buying 8 subs, the regular maintainence and overhauling of these subs will cost a lot of money.plus the infrastructure associated with the AIP systems,spares,armaments,lubricants,berthing and overhauling infra etc will add to the bill.
it might end up using the entire pakistani navy budget.lolzz

the pakistanis are claiming that all sorts of high tech stuff with come with these subs and that it will be able to fire the babur cruise missile which will be armed with nuclear warheads.
i think they might do so so with the chinese help since china already has provided pakistan wih nuclear warhead designs previously.

any ways india needs to beef up its ASW capabilities with long range ASW aircrafts and ships.

and on a funny note since words like "sweeter than honey stronger than steel" “iron brother” “all weather” “Asian tiger” “China-Pak dosti zindabad!” are being dished about by the both sides i will not be surpised if Xi Jinping gets carried away by all this bonhomie and ends up gifting/leasing pakistan one of the PLANs old nuclear submarines.

a nice article

Peter Coates said...

Thanks lachit

President Xi has now departed Pakistan and, in line, with my article there has been no Chinese mention (that I've seen) of Chinese submarines for Pakistan http://tribune.com.pk/story/873354/chienese-president-xi-jinping-to-address-joint-session/ .

I agree with what you say and note Pak is more than $60 Billion in debt and has a naval budget of around just $750 million. So Pak may not even be able to crew or maintain 4 extra subs even if China donated them.

Paks talk of integrating Babur cruise missile seems more nationalism than practicality. China already has small SLBMs like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JL-1 for any integration.

Pak could also put nuclear warheads on the Exocets already in its Agosta subs.

I think China considers Pak too unstable, and uneconomic to give it high value thermonuclear weapons or second strike submarine platforms. Pak is also a source of Islamic militancy and China has Islamic terrorism problems.

Thanks for http://thediplomat.com/2015/04/xi-jinping-on-pakistan-i-feel-as-if-i-am-going-to-visit-the-home-of-my-own-brother/ . Certainly shows that China is being diplomatic - with few real hopes Pak could be an "Asian Tiger".



Stephen said...

china and pakistan friendship is real big concern for India ... added to that china also buildina an airport in Xinjiang which is near to Pakistan Ocupied Kashmir (POK) ... some thing fishy over here?????

lachit said...


i believe from time to time mother nature might play spoil sport to all these china-pakistan infrastructure projects.

as u all know Chinas Western Highway, also known as the Lhasa-Kashgar/Xinjiang Highway connects Xinjiang to Tibet.from Quilanaldi,the road branches off to the Khunjerab Pass and, subsequently, becomes the Karakoram Highway right up to Gilgit.the 1,300 km long Karakoram Highway remains the only all-weather road linking Gilgit-Baltistan with the rest of Pakistan, besides connecting China and Pakistan at an altitude of 4,693 metres, through the Khunjerab Pass.

and now we have the proposed airfield at Xinjiang

but worth noting is the fact that the Karakoram Highway is open for only 4-5 months in a year.add to this landslides and avalanches which occur frequently.

also the karakoram and tibet region through which these roads are passing falls in high risk seismic zones.long underground tunnels and bridges,airfields are vurnerable to earthquakes.

"On December 28, 1974,an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 occurred in the remote and barely accessibler egion of Swat
and Indus Kohistan, south of Hindukush and Karakoram range of mounteins. Several thousand people died and some
60,000 to 100,000 were affected
The Karakoram highway,which was at that time under construction and renovation,was very badly damaged and was unusable throughout most of the relief operation."

also the chinese seem oblivious to the fact that POK is part of india under illegal pakistan occupation.some day when conditions are ripe india might just walk into POK.

also the terrorist threat factor assumes significance considering chinese suppression of muslims.

and i am sure both US/EU and india is taking note of these developments and will surely indulge in covert and overt means to try to distrupt or atleast make the project fincially costly to sustain.

also the chinese are super rich but things are not going to remain the same always.the
project is a long time project streaching over 10-15 years.a finacial meltdown in china/world will surely halt these plans.

china is over reaching itself,its dispute in south china sea,vietnam,indonesia,india,japan,tiawan etc might take a worse turn someday and will seriously impact its capability to continue with such grand projects.


i came to know that the chinese are buying lots of properties in australia.
makes me a little suspicious,
considering that the china seems to have a plan behind every investment.
what is ur take on it

Peter Coates said...

Hi lachit

Like other countries Australia has a foreign investment review board and other bodies to track foreign government investment involvement.

The bulk of property purchasing are by private Chinese investors buying apartments in Sydney. It mainly looks like they are buying bolthole refuges just in case China collapses into true communism and another Revolution.

US and UK interests have been buying up Australian farms and mines for 100 years so it would be racist if Australians singled out Chinese business interests.



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