China likely to build military base in Pakistan: US

A Pentagon report further highlights that Bangladesh, traditionally an Indian ally, was fast becoming a major market for Chinese arms

Photo courtesy: Facebook\ISPR Official
Photo courtesy: Facebook\ISPR Official

NH Web Desk

A Pentagon report released on Tuesday warned that China would “most likely” build a foreign military base in Pakistan, saying that Islamabad has a precedent for hosting foreign militaries. The annual military report, prepared for the US Congress, also observed the persisting India-China land dispute along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), despite growing political and economic relations between the two Asian powerhouses.

Following are the major highlights of the Pentagon Report:

Military base in Pakistan

  • The report took note of growing military and economic proximity between China and Pakistan. Pakistan is the largest importer of Chinese arms, and the report identified Islamabad as the main driver of growth of China’s defence industry. The report observed that China had signed an agreement with Pakistan for the sale of eight submarines in 2016, out of which four would be built in Pakistan.
  • The report further highlighted that China was developing counter-terrorism ties with other countries in the region. Observing China’s concerns regarding threats posed by terrorism to the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, the report noted that China had participated in the inaugural meeting of the Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism, a military counter-terrorism pact among Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, and Tajikistan.

China’s growing arms market

  • After Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar were the next biggest markets for Chinese arms in the region, the report noted. It highlighted that China was the fourth largest arms supplier in the world between 2011 and 2015, exporting defence products worth more than $20 billion. The report predicted that China’s ability to remain among world’s top arms supplier would “hinge” on continued strong sales to Pakistan.
  • The US report also observed that Chinese-made armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were also being exported in large numbers, primarily to the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries. Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were among major recipients of Chinese UAVs, the report said.
  • The report reasoned that coming with “fewer political strings attached,” being cheaper and having “advanced capabilities” at the same time were what made Chinese arms attractive.

India-China border tensions

  • “Tensions remain with India along the shared 4,057 km border over Arunachal Pradesh, which China asserts is part of Tibet and therefore part of China, and over the Aksai Chin region at the western end of the Tibetan Plateau, despite growing China-India political and economic relations,” the report said. The report further said that China and India continue to accuse each other of “frequent incursions and military build-ups.” The report also observed a 2016 incident when 40 Chinese troops had set up a temporary shelter within Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh.”

China’s misrepresented military spending

  • The Pentagon document also noted that though China had officially claimed that its military spending last year was to the tune of $140.4 billion, the actual figure was much higher and exceeded $180 billion. While the economic growth of China will slow down in the coming years, its defence budget will continue to increase for the “foreseeable future,” the report said.

‘Active Defence’ – China’s military doctrine

  • “China characterises its military strategy as one of active defence, a concept it describes as strategically defensive but operationally proactive in orientation,” the report said. The report explained that the doctrine involves launching of “defence counterattacks” to disrupt enemy’s offensive or even disrupting the preparations for an offensive.

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Published: 07 Jun 2017, 7:36 PM