China has agreed to a $1.5 billion deal to purchase two more Russian-built Sovremenny-class destroyers, which Beijing will add to its current growing blue-water fleet of ships able to operate further from Chinese shores.

According to Defense News, the ships will be armed with a variety of modern, high-tech weapons and technology, including Moskit (Sunburn) anti-ship missiles, considered a legitimate threat against U.S. carriers and their accompanying battle groups.

Russia sold China two Sovremmeny-class destroyers in 1997 for $1 billion, delivering them in 1999 and 2000. The new contract was signed Dec. 3.

Meanwhile, the Indian government is concerned about the modernization of the Chinese navy, including a new naval base and port facility China is building in Burma.

The base is being built at the mouth of the Irrawaddy River, across the Bay of Bengal from India, according to Al Santoli, national security aide to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and editor of The American Foreign Policy Council’s China Reform Monitor newsletter.

That project is being built with a large number of Chinese workers, Santoli said, and Burma has used Chinese contractors to produce the project.

Additionally, weapons Indian intelligence agencies captured in Burma in December are part of a Chinese shipment sent to insurgents in India’s northeastern states. Since then, Indian agencies believe, two more caches of Chinese arms have been delivered to the region.

“Senior Indian officials said that the presence of 2,500 AK-47s ‘floating about’ in the northeast is reason for concern,” Santoli wrote. “This is in violation of a 1998 understanding between India and China that Beijing would not offer encouragement to northeast militants.”

As tensions between India and its nuclear-armed neighbor, Pakistan, worsen, China has made overtures to Islamabad, pledging to provide support to the Islamic nation “in all eventualities,” according to Pakistani Maj.-Gen. Rashid Qureshi.

A separate official government statement said that Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Ronji, during a visit to Pakistan earlier this month, “expressed his apprehension at the potentially volatile situation that has arisen due to the assembling of Indian forces close to the Pakistani border.”

In a meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Zhu promised “principled and everlasting support for Islamabad.”

“China considers Pakistan its very reliable and close friend and will always stand by Pakistan,” Zhu said, according to published reports.

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