Beijing derides chatter of establishing military bases in Pakistan

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Beijing
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China confirmed on Thursday that it is not establishing a military base in Pakistan and hence all the chatter about it is pure speculation. Earlier this month, the Pentagon released a 97-page report about China’s military capabilities and singled out that Beijing is likely to set up a military base in Pakistan.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian was asked at a regular monthly news briefing if China would build a naval base in the Chinese-invested Pakistani port city of Gwadar. “Talk that China is building a military base in Pakistan is pure guesswork,” Wu said, without adding further on the issue.

The report titled “Military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China, 2017” made several references to Pakistan and highlighted healthy defense relations between the two countries.

“Talk that China is building a military base in Pakistan is pure guesswork,” Wu said, without adding further on the issue.

“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 noted.

Read more:China & Pakistan: Evolution of a Strategic Relationship that created CPEC…

The Pentagon predicts that Beijing would likely build more bases overseas after establishing a facility in the African nation of Djibouti.Given the position of Dijibouti, India  feels that China could ramp-up its military presence in the region.

China’s ever-increasing clout in the region and beyond is making the US and India wary. The China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) gives China an important conduit to expand its economic, cultural and even military power.  Being a flagship project of the OBOR initiative, it has gained traction and also severe opposition, especially from India, which calls it an infringement of its sovereignty.

Much to the delight of Delhi,the joint statement alluded to India’s concerns about OBOR,albeit indirectly.The statement speaks of the need to promote connectivity “through the transparent development of infrastructure and the use of responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law and environment and call on other nations in the region to adhere to these principles”.

Read more:The differing futures of Pakistan and China. Does Beijing get a…

The Pentagon predicts that Beijing would likely build more bases overseas after establishing a facility in the African nation of Djibouti. Given the position of Dijibouti, India feels that China could ramp-up its military presence in the region. However, China has so far downplayed its overseas military build-up, despite launching a massive modernization program.

The base in Djibouti is China’s first overseas military base.The Chinese base would be about four miles from the U.S. base at Camp Lemonnier, one of the Pentagon’s largest and most important foreign military installations, where about 3,000 U.S. military personnel and contractors are assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.It is expected to lend support to China’s naval presence in the region.He also noted that China has about 2,200 troops in international peacekeeping operations on the continent.

China is expanding its tentacles and clout on the international stage.It is doing it differently as compared to other hegemons of yester years and even today.China is using geo-economics to advance its international goals.Operating in an anarchic world order,China’s rise is baulked by US and its allies.China is obviating such threats through regional economic alliances and expanding its trade canvass.

Higher than Himalayas friendship for now

A day after US President Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called upon Pakistan to end its support for terrorism, China backed Pakistan unequivocally.

“China thinks that the international cooperation against terrorism should be enhanced and stepped up. The international community should give full recognition and affirmation to Pakistan’s efforts in this regard,”Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters in Beijing.

India who abstained from the OBOR Summit last month has been time and again told by China that CPEC or OBOR for that matter is a project for enhancing trade and connectivity.

“We have to say Pakistan stands at the frontlines of the international counter terrorism fight and has been making efforts in this regard,” Mr Lu added.

Read more:Map of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Projects

This is not an unusual occurrence, for China has taken exceptions to such remarks in the last couple of months. China has done enough to alleviate the misgivings of India and the doubts that others are raising on the issue. India who abstained from the OBOR Summit last month has been time and again told by China that CPEC or OBOR for that matter is a project for enhancing trade and connectivity.

Last month the Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, “CPEC is neither targeted at any third party nor related to territorial disputes.”

In an extensive report titled “The Belt and Road Initiative and the Role of Escap’ was released by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap) apprehensions about CPEC were raised. “the dispute over Kashmir is a cause of concern since the crossing of the CPEC in the region might create geopolitical tensions with India and ignite more political instability,”the report said.

China wants to strengthen SCO and make it a barricade against the US hegemonic designs in the region.

With CPEC being a conduit of China’s expansion, Pakistan and its security becomes all the more imperative for China. Both India and Pakistan became full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization earlier this month. As a full member Pakistan is likely to gain some diplomatic leverage and would get access to domains which eluded it while being exclusively in the US camp. The membership will further solidify this relationship.

Read more:SCO membership of India & Pakistan brings challenges and opportunities

China wants to strengthen SCO and make it a barricade against the US hegemonic designs in the region. It would thus try its utmost to control the rage between India and Pakistan, something which may not reap much dividends.

China fears that India’s entry in the NSG would upset the strategic balance in South Asia and be repugnant to peace in the region.

China is fully backing Pakistan in world forums; it has once again opposed India’s entry to the prestigious Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Beijing wanted that the inclusion of non-NPT countries, such as India and Pakistan, in the NSG should follow a two-step approach – evolving a universal formula for all such nations and then taking up each country‘s application.

Read more:India looks to woo adamant China for entry into NSG: Will…

China fears that India’s entry in the NSG would upset the strategic balance in South Asia and be repugnant to peace in the region. China also is anxious of this step being inimical to Pakistan’s strategic interests. Most importantly, the overt US support for Delhi’s bid is seen as a way to contain China.

China is expanding its role in the Afghan theatre amid US reverses and reconfigurations in policy. All this is likely to draw the battle-lines where India and the US will try to counter China and what they call an unruly Pakistan.

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