China dismisses Pentagon report about military base in Pakistan as ‘irresponsible’

beijingBEIJING: China on Wednesday dismissed as irresponsible the annual US Defence Department report that predicted China would expand its global military presence.

The defence ministry in a statement refuted the US assessment, saying “China is not doing any military expansion and does not seek a sphere of influence”.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a briefing that China “is firmly opposed” to aspects of the report.

“We have noted the report released by the US which made irresponsible remarks about China’s national defence development in disregard of the facts,” Ms Hua said, declining to comment on “speculation” and noting that the “friendly cooperation [between China and Pakistan] does not target any third party”.

The Pentagon report said Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea had caused regional concern over its long-term intentions.

“As of late 2016, China was constructing 24 fighter-sized hangars, fixed-weapons positions, barracks, administration buildings and communication facilities” at three outposts in the Spratly Islands, the report said.

China has balked at US involvement in the dispute.

“The US’s intensification of deployment in the region — frequently sending navy vessels on reconnaissance operations — has created the tense situation,” China’s defence ministry said.

Though China is engaged in a decades-long build-up and modernisation of its once-backward armed forces, its military clout remains far behind that of the United States, whose annual defence budget totals around $600 billion. -AFP

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