According to a new Pentagon report, China is all ready to establish some new military bases in Pakistan and some other countries with which it has very old friendly ties and alike strategic interests. According to the annual report to the Congress on China’s military buildup, the US Department of Defence said that China’s construction of a military base in the strategic location of Djibouti is something the first of what will expect to be a continuing increase in friendly foreign ports around the world.
The China is developing its entrance to foreign ports to pre-position the important logistics support to regularize and manage deployments in the “far seas” waters as distant as the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean. The Pentagon said, “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.” On the other hand, the report warned that China’s efforts to construct more bases “may be constrained by the willingness of the countries to support” the occurrence of China’s People’s Liberation Army in one of their ports. Adding to this, China is also building up the strategically located Gwadar Port in Balochistan that numerous experts in the US say are pointed towards having a military presence.
Adding to the China’s claims that this facility is made to help the navy and army in the future participate in UN peacekeeping operations, the report said that “In February 2016, China began construction of a military base in Djibouti and probably will complete it within the next year”. As per the China, the main focus of building up this is to participate in UN peacekeeping operations, carry out escort missions in the waters near Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, and provide humanitarian assistance. Along with regular naval vessel visits to foreign ports, this initiative both reflects and amplifies China’s growing influence and broadening the reach of its military. China has referred to anti-piracy patrolling as one of the reasons for constructing to which it says a naval logistics center in Djibouti. The report also said that China’s expanding international economic interests are increasing the requirement for the PLA Navy to operate in more distant sea situations to ensure the protection of Chinese citizens, investments and sea lines of communication (SLOC).
As per the report, the China uses PLA engagements with foreign militaries to develop its presence and impact abroad, strengthen its image and lessen other countries’ concern about its rise. The report said, “These engagements also assist PLA modernization by facilitating the acquisition of advanced weapon systems and technologies, increasing its operational experience throughout and beyond Asia, and giving the PLA access to foreign military practices, operational doctrine, and training methods.” It also added that in 2016, China HAS conducted counterpiracy operations in the Gulf of Aden by conveying its 24th naval escort task force to the territory since 2008. “China also continued to send submarines to the Indian Ocean, ostensibly in support of its counterpiracy patrols. In May 2016, a nuclear-powered attack submarine conducted a port call in Karachi, Pakistan, during a visit by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Commander, marking China’s first port call in South Asia by a nuclear submarine,” the Pentagon said.
“These submarine patrols demonstrate the PLAN’s emerging capability both to protect China’s SLOCs and to increase China’s power projection into the Indian Ocean. Of this, USD 9 billion was to Asia-Pacific countries, primarily Pakistan,” the report added. As per the Pentagon, Pakistan is also the China’s largest buyer of arms. From 2011 to 2015, China was the world’s fourth biggest arms provider with more than USD 20 billion in sales. After Pakistan, Sub-Saharan Africa was China’s second largest regional arms market. China’s capacity to stay among the world’s top five worldwide arms providers depends mainly on continued solid sales with Pakistan and demand for its armed UAVs. There is no doubt in that China is one of just a couple of global suppliers of such equipment and tackles some competition for sales to the North Africa and the Middle East. “This likely will result in the Middle East and North Africa surpassing Sub-Saharan Africa as China’s second largest arms export market,” it added.
A year ago, China signed an accord with Pakistan for the offer of eight submarines, the report said, including that the initial four will be made in China and the remaining four in Pakistan. The report also added that other major Asia-Pacific customers of Chinese military equipment include Burma and Bangladesh as well. The Pentagon said that the China had sold equipped UAVs to several states in the North Africa and the Middle East, including United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. The report also added that the China faces some competition for the sales of such system as most nations that produce them are limited in offering the technology as signatories of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) or the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies (WA), and subjecting fares of this technology to better examination.