After CPEC, China likely to build military base in Pakistan: Pentagon

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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".

"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", said the report on China's defense policy, which is issued to Congress every year.

Reacting sharply to the Pentagon report, China said the US Defence Department has made "irresponsible" remarks about the country's military. His speech was received favorably by Japan and other USA allies.

The Pentagon highlighted in its report that China's expanding global economic interests are increasing demands for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to operate in more distant maritime environments to protect Chinese citizens, investments, and critical sea lines of communication.

But India and others would be unhappy with additional Chinese development in Pakistan, particularly anything linked to the military.

The report repeatedly mentioned China's construction of its first overseas naval base in Djibouti and how that area is strategically located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to Suez Canal.

"We oppose China's artificial island construction and their militarization of features in worldwide waters", Tillerson said while appearing in Sydney, Australia Monday alongside Mattis and the Australian foreign and defense ministers. That region accounted for $9 billion of the more than $20 billion in Chinese arms exports from 2011 to 2015.

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And countries including Pakistan and Afghanistan welcome it as a path out of poverty.

The report, which was released on Tuesday, estimated that China spent $180 billion (€160.24 billion) in 2016 on its defence, far higher than the official figure of $144.3 billion (€128.5 billion).

"This likely will result in the Middle East and North Africa surpassing Sub-Saharan Africa as China's second largest arms export market", it said.

According to the annual report from the US Department of Defence, China spent $180 billion on the People's Liberation Army a year ago. "The two countries increased military exchanges since past year despite continued border tensions", the report added.

The United States has refused to recognize China's claims that is has historical ownership of the region - and has been sending military ships and aircraft near them, Defense One reported.

The report confirmed that China's Jin-class submarines are now equipped with JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missiles, boosting its sea-based nuclear deterrence. "But I would like to stress that as neighbours with traditional friendship, China and Pakistan have conducted broad co-operation in various fields for win-win results and mutual benefits for a long time".

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