Beijing on Wednesday dismissed as ‘irresponsible’ an annual US Defense Department report that predicted China would expand its global military presence, building overseas bases in countries including Pakistan.
Published on Tuesday, the Pentagon report estimated that China spent $180 billion last year on its military – the world’s largest – a figure well over the country’s official $140 billion defence budget. “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, and in which there is a precedent for hosting foreign militaries,” the report said.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said during a regular briefing Wednesday that China “is firmly opposed” to aspects of the publication. “We have noted the report released by the US which made irresponsible remarks about China’s national defence 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”.
As part of China’s expansive Belt and Road regional infrastructure project, China and Pakistan are building an economic corridor [CPEC] aimed at linking northwest China to the Arabian Sea.