Africa Targeted in China-Pakistan Jet Sales. Are BRICS Fissures Forming?

Avatar
Written by Dana Sanchez

Longtime allies China and Pakistan have close diplomatic, economic and security ties, and they’re courting African countries in the market for what they’re jointly marketing as cheap, modern fighter jets.

The differences between India and China came out in the open Sunday and Monday at a BRICS summit in India and showed divisions within the five-nation BRICS group on terrorism, Indian Express reported.

China sprang to Pakistan’s defense Monday after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Pakistan as a “mother-ship of terrorism,” Reuters reported.

BRICS is an association of five countries with emerging economies —  Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — that are home to half the world’s population and 22 percent of the gross world product.

Modi’s remarks to BRICS leaders show an escalation of his diplomatic drive to isolate Pakistan, which India accuses of sponsoring cross-border terrorism, according to Reuters.

Tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan have been high since Sept. 18 when 19 Indian soldiers died in a Sept. 18 attack on an army base in Kashmir near the disputed frontier with Pakistan — the worst such assault in 14 years.

China opposes all forms of terrorism, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

“We also oppose the linking of terrorism to any specific country, ethnicity or religion. This is China’s consistent position,” she said at a press conference in Beijing.

“Everyone knows that India and Pakistan are victims of terrorism. Pakistan has made huge efforts and great sacrifices in fighting terrorism. I think the international community should respect this,” Hua said.

China and Pakistan have successfully developed several military aircraft together, and the partnership is now actively courting African countries to buy their JF-17 fighter jets, Defence Web reported.

“There is a clear scope for co-operation on the African continent and a lot of potential in Africa,” said Rana Tanveer Hussain, Pakistan’s minister of defense production, in an exclusive interview with Defence Web.

The JF-17 jet has advanced capabilities, light weight and low cost, making it attractive to African air forces, according to the report. Malawi, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan have expressed an interest.

The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex exhibited for the first time at this year’s 2016 Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition at the South African Air Force Base at Waterkloof.

China and Pakistan are jointly market the aircraft, drawing on China’s experience in sales and marketing in Africa, and Pakistan’s has operational and maintenance experience on the JF-17.

China supplied 10 training jets to Zimbabwe in 2006 and 16 to Zambia.

Pakistan already conducts tactical and security training with Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Nigerian Air Force recently finalized the purchase of 10 utility aircraft. Deliveries are expected in early 2017.