WASHINGTON: In order to expand its military capabilities across the world, China is likely on way to establish overseas military bases “in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan” to protect its interest abroad, a Pentagon report said.
The US defence department released a 94-page annual report showing advancement made by the Chinese military in 2016. It added that China spent $180 billion on the People’s Liberation Army during the last year surpassing the defence budget figure of $140.4 billion.
According to the report, “China’s expanding international economic interests are increasing demands for the PLAN to operate in more distant maritime environments to protect Chinese citizens, investments, and critical sea lines of communication (SLOC)”.
It further said, “China’s overseas military basing may be constrained by the willingness of countries to support a PLA presence in one of their ports”.
“This initiative, along with regular naval vessel visits to foreign ports, both reflects and amplifies China’s growing influence, extending the reach of its armed forces.”
First Chinese Overseas Military Base
In February 2016, China began construction on its first overseas military base in Djibouti, a strategic location, where the US already has a military base, at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal.
“From 2011 to 2015, China was the world’s fourth largest arms supplier, with more than $20 billion in sales. Of this, $9 billion was to Asia-Pacific countries, primarily Pakistan. Sub-Saharan Africa was China’s second largest regional arms market,” the report added.
Last year, China inked an agreement with Pakistan for the sale of eight submarines. The first four will be built in China, with the remaining four in Pakistan.
US Military Bases
The United States is the largest operator of military bases abroad, with 38 “named bases” having active duty, national guard, reserve, or civilian personnel as of September 30, 2014. Its largest, in terms of personnel, was Ramstein AB, in Germany, with almost 9,200 personnel.