China now has base in Africa, eyes Pakistan for future site, Pentagon says

by WorldTribune Staff, June 7, 2017

On the heels of establishing its first naval base in Africa, China is now said to be looking to Pakistan as the possible site of the future military base, the Pentagon said in an annual report to Congress released on June 6.

The Pentagon report forecast that Beijing would likely build more bases overseas after establishing a naval facility in the African nation of Djibouti, where the U.S. also has a military base.

Chinese President Xi Jinping with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. / Xinhua

Pakistan accounted for $9 billion of the more than $20 billion in Chinese arms exports from 2011 to 2015. Last year, China signed an agreement with Pakistan for the sale of eight submarines.

The Pentagon report said China’s leaders appeared committed to defense spending hikes for the “foreseeable future,” even as economic growth slows.

“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.

Djibouti’s position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fueled worries in India that it would become another of China’s “string of pearls” of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, according to a Reuters report.

In its report to Congress, the Pentagon also renewed its concerns about cyber spying, saying U.S. government-owned computers were again targeted by China-based intrusions in 2016.

“These and past intrusions focused on accessing networks and extracting information,” the report said.

“China uses its cyber capabilities to support intelligence collection against U.S. diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors.”

In a section discussing China’s Navy, the report predicted that China’s first domestically designed and produced aircraft carrier would likely reach initial operating capability in 2020.

On the issue of self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own, the Pentagon said Chinese reforms to improve joint operations by different parts of its military would help in the event of any operation against the island.

“The structural reforms now reshaping the PLA will, if fully implemented, improve the force’s ability to conduct complex joint operations, including those that would be involved in a Taiwan contingency.”

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