China’s naval plans in Gwadar port, Pakistan

Reports suggest that China might be planning a high security Naval base in Gwadar port to ostensibly facilitate trade, albeit there have been no official confirmation. Since 2017, it has been mooted whether China may convert a part of the port into a high security zone, and deploy marines. The recent constructions at the port prove the inkling right.

Map created according to HI Sutton’s report

Recent satellite pics show anti-vehicle berms, tall watch towers, a high outer wall and lower inner wall, which suggest possibility of armed men being stationed here.  

Pic credit HI Sutton

A berm is a level space or a raised barrier (usually made of compacted soil), serves as a fortification line, a border/separation barrier, in industrial settings, or at other such high security zones. Physical security systems employ berms to exclude hostile vehicles and slow attackers on foot (similar to the military application without the trench). Security berms are common around military and nuclear facilities.

Pic credit: Alamy

The reasons for such high security could be many—one the port is critically important to the $46 billion CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) project. Two, the port lies next to Balochistan which is a disturbed region due to the local populace carrying out armed resistance against Pakistan’s defence forces. Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) had carried out an attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi in 2018, and a year later at a hotel in Gwadar. Chinese trepidation is justified but here’s a problem, India has invested in a port in Iran’s Chabahar port which lies hardly 200Km away from Gwadar.

India and China’s bonhomie has touched rock bottom after recent skirmishes between Indian defence forces and China’s Army, in Ladakh. So India’s official response to this news is awaited.

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