China may build military bases in Pakistan, claims Pentagon

China may build military bases in Pakistan, claims Pentagon

MOSCOW - The Belt and Road Initiative, which was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, mainly focuses on the Maritime Silk Route, which connects China and Europe; the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt deals with Russia as well as countries in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Beijing may create more military bases across the world to protect its investments in its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project, also known as One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative, the Pentagon said in a report to Congress on Chinese military and security developments.

With China currently having just one overseas military base in Djibouti, target locations could include the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the western Pacific, according to the report.

“China’s advancement of projects such as the ‘One Belt, One Road’ Initiative will probably drive military overseas basing through a perceived need to provide security for OBOR projects,” the document pointed out.

The document singled out China’s push to “establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and in which there is a precedent for hosting foreign militaries”.

In March, Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the US White House’s national security adviser urged the Italian government not to participate in China's BRI, calling it a “vanity project”.

Shortly after, however, Italy became the first major Western country to support the BRI, which stipulates promoting investment in projects that would link dozens of countries across Africa, Asia, and Europe through the creation of infrastructure networks similar in purpose to the ancient Silk Road trading routes.

During a recent BRI Forum in Beijing, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaie, in turn, said that major EU countries, including Germany, France, Spain, and the UK, are ready to sign a memorandum of understanding on BRI as a group rather than as individual states.

As for the Pentagon report, it comes at a time of ongoing Indian-Pakistani tensions, which escalated after the 14 February Pulwama terrorist attack in which at least 40 Indian security personnel were killed.

Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based terrorist group, claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack and New Delhi accused Islamabad of harbouring and sponsoring the Islamist terrorist outfit, a charge which Islamabad denies.