China on Saturday handed over two maritime patrol vessels to the Pakistan Navy for joint security along the sea route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Dawn reported.
The Chinese vessels were received by the commander of the Pakistan Navy Vice-Admiral Arifullah Hussaini. The ships are called PMSS Hingol and PMSS Basol after two rivers in the region.
"The ships have become part of the Pakistan Navy from today and the (Pakistan) navy would become stronger with the induction of these maritime vessels," Hussaini was quoted as saying by the Dawn. He added that Pakistan-China friendship was becoming stronger and ''deeper than the ocean'' day by day.
China is expected to provide two more ships "Dasht" and "Zhob" to the Pakistan navy. It is already working on them and they are expected to be completed soon.
Pakistan has already raised a new division of the army to ensure security along the CPEC route and in and around the Gwadar port. Security of Gwadar city has been handed over to the army's new division created during the tenure of former chief of army staff retired Gen Raheel Sharif.
The CPEC is an economic corridor comprising a collection of projects currently under construction at a cost of $54 billion. CPEC aims to facilitate trade along an overland route that connects Kashgar and Gwadar, through the construction of a network of highways, railways, optical fibre and pipelines.
"The economic corridor will be a game-changer for Pakistan and China, and the entire region would benefit from it," the Pakistan navy officer said. "The CPEC will open new vistas of speedy development in Balochistan and create thousands of jobs for the local youth," he said.
In 2014, China took over management of Pakistan's Gwadar port, en route to key Hormuz Straits oil shipping lanes. The move had raised concerns in India about its fellow Asian giant's growing strategic clout.