nsucurrent.com March 22, 2018

US Says China Likely to Build More Overseas Bases, Maybe in Pakistan

08 June 2017, 01:58 | Colleen Roy

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She said China was a force for stability in Asia and elsewhere in the world.

China's military modernisation programme is now focussed on supporting missions beyond its territorial limits and is likely to set up bases in "friendly" countries like Pakistan, says the latest report from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The report went on to forecast that Beijing would likely build more bases overseas after establishing a facility in the African nation of Djibouti.

Reacting to the Pentagon report, an editorial by Global Times, English daily under People's Daily (an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party) also said, "These reports suggest that the United States has decreasing confidence over its military supremacy in the West Pacific".

The US military has previously fanned fears of emerging near-peer opponents such as Russian Federation and China, whom Washington perceives as prime national security threats.

Pakistan is already the primary market in the Asian-Pacific region for Chinese arms exports, the report noted, according to Reuters.

Pentagon has accused China of employing "coercive tactics", such as "the use of law enforcement vessels and its maritime militia, to enforce maritime claims and advance its interests in ways that are calculated to fall below the threshold of provoking conflict".

The development is of concern to India given our long-standing hostility with Pakistan and the ever-fragile peace along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

Last year China began building its first overseas base in the African nation of Djibouti, which is already home to a key USA military base and is strategically located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal. "We hope the USA side will put aside the Cold War mentality, view China's military development in an objective and rational manner, and take concrete actions to maintain steady growth of the military relationship between the two countries", Hua said.

The report was published days after top USA defense and foreign policy officials traveled to Asia as part of a bid to reassure traditional U.S. allies concerned over Beijing's increasingly assertive actions in the South China Sea.

According to the report, China is one of only a few global suppliers of such equipment and faces little competition for sales to the Middle East and North Africa.

Three regiments of fighter aircraft can be housed in the facilities. But due to "poor accounting transparency" officials admitted that figure could not account for all spending. "The two countries increased military exchanges since previous year despite continued border tensions", the report added.

"China appears to have built significant point-defense capabilities, in the form of large anti-aircraft guns and probable close-in weapons systems, at each of its outposts in the Spratly Islands", the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative reported in December a year ago.

China follows the path of peaceful development and its defense expenditures are "open and transparent", it said in a statement. "It is a legitimate right of a sovereign state", Hua said, without mentioning the islands directly.

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