WASHINGTON - China likely will try to expand its military presence across the world with military bases in Pakistan, Djibouti and elsewhere, as it sees its role in global affairs growing, according to a report released Tuesday by the Pentagon.
The annual Pentagon report on Chinese military developments says China already is expanding its presence in foreign ports as a way to "pre-position the necessary logistics support" to sustain far away from the Chinese homeland.
“China's expanding international economic interests are increasing demands for the [Chinese Navy] to operate in more distant maritime environments to protect Chinese citizens, investments, and critical sea lines of communication,” the report reads.
The Pentagon believes China most likely will try to set up additional military bases in countries where it has “longstanding friendly relationships and similar strategic interests.”
Pakistan singled out
The report singles out Pakistan as one of those allies potentially willing to host Chinese troops and says China already has begun construction on a military base in the small east African country Djibouti, which lies along the Gulf of Aden. The Pentagon believes construction will be completed within the next year.
“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,” the report reads.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying blasted the report Wednesday, saying it disregarded facts and made “irresponsible remarks.”
Speaking with reporters, Hua refused to comment on the potential future overseas bases, but said China is a force for safeguarding peace in Asia and "friendly cooperation [between China and Pakistan] does not target any third party.”
“We hope the U.S. side will put aside the Cold War mentality, view China's military development in an objective and rational manner, and take concrete actions to maintain steady growth of the military relationship between the two countries,” she said.
$180 billion spent
China spent $180 billion on its People's Liberation Army last year, according to the Pentagon report, though the report concedes “it is difficult to estimate actual military expenses, largely due to China's poor accounting transparency.”
China's official defense budget puts its expenditures at about $140 billion, but that budget fails to include major defense expenditures related to research and procurement of foreign equipment.
The official Chinese defense budget has nearly doubled since 2007, from roughly $75 billion to $140 billion in 2016.