CHINA has slammed “irresponsible comments” from the Pentagon in a new report on the Asian hegemon’s military capacity, with the People’s Republic urging the US to drop its “Cold War mindset.”
In an annual report regarding China’s military power released on Tuesday, the Pentagon describes the People’s Republic’s coercion strategy to dominate Asian waterways, which has put the US and India in trepidation.
The report estimates, “due to China’s poor accounting transparency,” that China spent US$180 billion last year on its military which is well over the country’s official US$140 billion defence budget.
In early 2016, China started building a naval base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa which it has deemed “logistical support” facilities. Importantly, the base is in the vicinity of the US’s Camp Lemonnier.
The Pentagon seems optimistic that the completion of these facilities would allow China to undertake greater participation in UN peacekeeping operations and contribute towards humanitarian aid. Nevertheless, the US military has expressed concerns.
“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.
Needless to say, this would bring China and Pakistan’s friendship a step closer but may cause major concerns for India which continues to have a hostile relationship with Pakistan and ongoing border disputes with China.
“China and India continue to accuse each other of frequent incursions and military build-ups along the disputed territories,” the report noted. “Tensions persist along disputed portions of the Sino-Indian border, where both countries patrol with armed forces.”
“In September 2016, an Indian patrol observed that more than 40 Chinese troops had set up a temporary shelter within Indian Territory in Arunachal Pradesh, which China also claims. The two sides conducted flag-officer meetings where they agreed to maintain peace, and then withdrew to mutually acceptable positions.”
Beijing’s progress will allow “China to project and sustain military power at greater distances,” which will help its military leaders to successfully conduct operations in Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean, says the report.
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Hua Chunying was damning of the Pentagon’s report in her regular media briefing on Wednesday, and said they are “irresponsible remarks on China’s national defence development.”
“We hope that the US side can discard the Cold-War mindset, put China’s military development in an objective and rational light, and take concrete actions to uphold the steady development of China-US relations and the military ties,” she added.
In a statement later on June 6, China’s Ministry of National Defense (MOD) spokesperson, Senior Colonel Wu Qian also condemned the report and said “China will not seek military expansion or sphere of influence; China will remain a resolute power to preserve world peace.”
China military affairs analyst, Rick Fisher, urged the Trump administration “to tell the real truth about China’s global military ambitions and tell the truth about China’s longstanding support for nuclear terrorism in North Korea, Iran, and by possible Islamist crisis in Pakistan.”
“In order to defend against current and future Chinese threats, what the world needs the most are real facts about the state and projection of that threat,” he said.