The Arabian Sea exists as a connecting link between the Gulf countries and the Asian giants such as India and China. A joint exercise with Pakistan is expected to give immense exposure to China in the region, where India’s arch-rival has been deploying submarines and warships.

The sixth bilateral naval exercise between China and Pakistan, code-named Sea Guardians-2020, commenced on Monday in the northern Arabian Sea, with the purpose of enhancing security cooperation between the two countries.

China is being represented by five major ships, including the guided-missile destroyer Yinchuan, the guided-missile frigate Yuncheng, the comprehensive supply ship Weishanhu, and the submarine rescue ship Liugongdao.

Pakistan Navy has deployed two Zulfiquar-class F22P/F21 frigates, two fast attack craft, one fixed-wing anti-submarine patrol aircraft, two ship-borne helicopters and more than 60 special operations soldiers.

The two sides will pursue a number of training objectives, including joint patrol, air-defence, joint anti-submarine, maritime live-firing, and joint marine training.

The drill will eventually become the basis for the “two navies to test and improve their technical and tactical capabilities, maintain regional marine security, learn from each other and enhance the level of cooperation, and synergy,” Pakistan Navy said.

However, the Chinese side has maintained that it has nothing to do with the situation in the region and is not targeted at any third party.

The two countries have also been conducting warrior series exercises between the two ground forces and the eagle series between their air forces.

Overland access to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan holds prime importance for Beijing, as it will provide an alternative route to China in the event of a conflict with India near choking points such as the Strait of Malacca in the Indian Ocean region.

Currently, around two-third of China's fuel imports pass through the Strait of Malacca, which is very close to India’s tri-service command, located at Andaman and Nicobar Island.