China funding airbase near Gwadar to block oil supply from W Asia to India

| | New Delhi
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China funding airbase near Gwadar to block oil supply from W Asia to India

Saturday, 06 February 2021 | PNS | New Delhi

China is funding development of an airbase near Gwadar port in Balochistan styled as Gwadar International airport for containing Indian Ocean Region (IOR) strategy of India and disrupting the oil supply lines from the Middle East to Indian shores.

The airbase will also help China in keeping an eye on Chabahar port of Iran where India has sanctioned USD 14 million for development of the port, sources tracking the development said.

The construction of the airbase began in January this year and the project is scheduled to be completed by the year end in December, they said.  

The move, the sources further said, is also aimed at counterbalancing operationalisation of the Sukhoi base in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu by India. The Thanjavur air base is used for patrolling the Indian Ocean and also conduct joint exercises with the Australian and Japanese air forces. The base also gives leverage to India in patrolling the sea lanes through fighter jets on the oil and goods business supply routes between the Gulf nations and China.

The under-construction Gwadar airbase is designed to land heavy military transport aircraft.

As of now, Gwadar airport is dubbed as a transport base for heavy lift aircraft and military landings have not been specifically outlined but such runways are also capable of facilitating fighter jets’ landings. 

The heavy military transport aircraft can also help Beijing in shipping men and military machines at short notice to check any major disruption in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that faces constant threat from the Baloch nationalists.

In the backdrop of the US administration under Joe Biden granting relaxations to sanctions clamped by his predecessor Donald Trump against Teheran, the Gwadar airbase can also be potentially exploited by the Iranians to smuggle in uranium and enrichment technology from China as there is no visa regime between Pakistan and Iran. 

Amid India developing the Chabahar port in Iran which is close to the Gwadar port under Pakistani control, Beijing aims to counter Indian dominance in the IOR by keeping tabs on movements in the sea up to Mumbai where the ports receive hydrocarbon supplies from the Gulf countries.

To camouflage the Chinese game plan, the Gwadar airport is dubbed as a civilian facility while its construction is currently in full swing.

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