LAHORE: In a report by the Pentagon released on Tuesday, China is set to expand its military capabilities across the globe, with new overseas bases in countries like Pakistan.
“China 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 said.
According to the annual report from the US Department of Defence, China spent $180 billion on the People’s Liberation Army last year. But due to “poor accounting transparency” officials admitted that figure could not account for all spending. The prediction is significantly higher than China’s official defence budget of about $140 billion.
Last year China began building its first overseas base in the African nation of Djibouti, which is already home to a key US military base and is strategically located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal.
The first overseas base is frequently cited in the Pentagon report along with vast ambitions for additional installations. Pakistan was singled out as an expected location and it is already the largest buyer of Chinese-made arms.
China already has the largest navy in the Pacific, the Pentagon report said with more than 300 ships. But China still lags behind the US and Japan in terms of technology and capability.
China has become increasingly firm militarily in recent years, especially in territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas. Military expansion overseas also ties into a $900 billion infrastructure initiative championed by president Xi Jinping to create a new Silk Road, with some of the planned projects in unstable regions like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But some say the plans are a natural extension of China’s desire to be more involved in international security.