China is looking to expand its military ports in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, a report by the Pentagon has said.
China is "expanding its access to foreign ports to pre-position the necessary logistics support to regularize and sustain deployments in the 'far seas’," the country will most likely pursue opportunities to build bases elsewhere, naming Pakistan an interesting location, the Pentagon annual report to Congress says.
The South Asian country is already a major destination for Chinese arms, the report said. "A more robust overseas logistics and basing infrastructure would also be essential to enable China to project and sustain military power at greater distances from China," it says.
The report estimated China’s spending of $180bn on the People’s Liberation Army last year, but officials admitted that figure could not account for all spending due to “poor accounting transparency”. That estimate is significantly higher than China’s official defense budget of about $140bn.
The new base is frequently cited in the Pentagon report along with wider ambitions for additional installations. Pakistan was singled out as a likely location and it is already the largest buyer of Chinese-made arms.
The Pentagon also noted how China in 2016 had focused on infrastructure construction at outposts in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. It said that as of late last year, China was building 24 fighter-sized hangars, fixed-weapons positions, barracks, administration buildings and communications facilities on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs -- three of its largest outposts.
Last year China began building its first overseas base in the African nation of Djibouti, already home to Camp Lemonnier, a large US instillation responsible for counter terrorism operations in the Persian Gulf and east and north Africa.