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US claim of global military expansion slammed

China | Jun 8, 2017
Beijing yesterday dismissed as "irresponsible" an annual US Defense Department report that predicted China would expand its global military presence, building overseas bases in countries like Pakistan.

Published Tuesday, the Pentagon report estimated that China spent US$180 billion (HK$1.4 trillion) last year on its military - the world's largest - a figure well over the country's official US$140 billion defense budget.

"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," the report said.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said yesterday that China "is firmly opposed" to aspects of the publication.

"We have noted the report released by the US which made irresponsible remarks about China's national defense development in disregard of the facts," Hua said, declining to comment on "speculation" and noting that the "friendly cooperation [between China and Pakistan] does not target any third party." As part of China's Belt and Road regional infrastructure project, China and Pakistan are building an economic corridor to link northwest China to the Arabian Sea.

China started building its first overseas military base in February 2016 in the small nation of Djibouti, just a few miles from a US camp.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE



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