Published: Thu, June 08, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

'Beijing seeks military base in Pakistan'

'Beijing seeks military base in Pakistan'

The report said the artificial islands have "enhanced China's ability to control disputed areas in the South China Sea and caused regional concern over China's long-term intentions".

"China is most likely will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan", the report noted.

James Char, a China analyst at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, told AFP that "it would not be surprising if the People's Liberation Army is working with its overseas counterparts on reaching formal agreements on basing arrangements".

In February 2016, China began construction of a military base in Djibouti that could be complete within the next year.

The Dongfeng-26 rockets could also be used for conventional strikes against ships in the region, the US Department of Defence said in its annual report on China's military.

"We have noted the report released by the USA which made irresponsible remarks about China's national defense development in disregard of the facts", Hua said, declining to comment on "speculation" and noting that the "friendly cooperation (between China and Pakistan) does not target any third party". "The China-Pakistan friendly co-operation does not target any third party and conforms to each other's worldwide commitments", she said.

China has cited anti-piracy missions as the reason behind its construction in Djibouti, which was already home to a large U.S. naval base.

The Pentagon report flagged Chinese military advances, including in space and at sea. It has also engaged in a series of dialogues and exchanges with the USA military, although the two continue to view each other warily. "These engagements also assist PLA modernisation by facilitating the acquisition of advanced weapon systems and technologies, increasing its operational experience throughout and beyond Asia, and giving the PLA access to foreign military practices, operational doctrine, and training methods", it added. "China is not doing any military expansion and does not seek a sphere of influence", it said in a statement.

"China also continued to send submarines to the Indian Ocean, ostensibly in support of its counterpiracy patrols".

China has attacked Washington's "cold war mentality" after a Pentagon report focused on Beijing's ambitions in the South China Sea, its plans to open military bases in countries such as Pakistan, and its deployment of rockets able to deliver nuclear warheads to the western Pacific. That region accounted for $9 billion of the more than $20 billion in Chinese arms exports from 2011 to 2015. Pakistan was singled out as a likely location and it is already the largest buyer of Chinese-made arms.

It said that as of late previous year, China was building 24 fighter-sized hangars, fixed-weapons positions, barracks, administration buildings and communication facilities on each of the three largest outposts - Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs.

But India and others would be unhappy with additional Chinese development in Pakistan, particularly anything linked to the military.

China sold armed UAVs to several states in the Middle East and North Africa, including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, the Pentagon said.

In March 2016, China announced a seven percent inflation-adjusted increase in its annual military budget to Dollars 144.3 billion, continuing more than two decades of annual defense spending increases and sustaining its position as the second largest military spender in the world after the United States. However, the official figure stands at $151.4 billion (954.3 billion yuan).

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