Pakistan and China are working together once again, and this time right at India's doorstep, in the North Arabian Sea.
PCMEX-2019, the Pakistan-China maritime exercise, begins in December, with the Chinese PLA Navy likely to be present in strength. The Chinese contingent comprises at least four warships, and also helicopters. The warships concerned are:
* Kunming, a Luyang III class modern guided-missile destroyer of about 7,000 tonnes. It was readied only in 2012.
* Yueyang, a Jiang Kai II class multi-role frigate of about 4,000 tonnes.
* Luomahu, a Fuchi-class tanker of about 20,000 tonnes and recently commissioned.
* A Song-class submarine - these are conventional (diesel-electric) and not nuclear-powered.
* Liugongdao, a Daloo-class submarine support ship. This suggests that the submarine will be in the Indian Ocean and surrounding waters for a longish spell.
Chinese helicopters and a detachment of marines will participate in the exercise.
Besides, China and Pakistan are planning another exercise. This is Sea Guardians-2020 off the coast of China in December next year and will be about maritime security cooperation.
Meanwhile, China is commissioning a Qing-class conventional submarine. These large boats -- about 6,000 tonnes -- have the ability to launch land-attack missiles. The Qing-class boats will replace the older Golf-class submarines.