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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Pentagon says China pursuing CPEC for strategic objectives, PLA superior to US military

Pentagon says China is pursuing projects in Pakistan to decrease its reliance on strategic chokepoints like the Strait of Malacca while transporting crucial energy resources.

Pentagon has released a report containing a chapter that looks at China’s One Belt, One Road initiative (OBOR). The 2020 Pentagon report released on Wednesday claimed China is pursuing projects in Pakistan as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor in order to decrease its reliance on strategic chokepoints like the Strait of Malacca while transporting crucial energy resources.

The Pentagon report also notes that the Chinese People Liberation Army (PLA) has surpassed the United States military in terms of land-based missiles and advanced air defence systems. Even the PLA’s Navy has become greater in size than the US.

Read more: CPEC breathes new life into Pakistan’s Gilgit Baltistan

China’s OBOR initiative has been seen by the Pentagon officials who produced the report as China’s way of promoting regional stability by fostering greater economic integration with countries along China’s periphery and beyond. It’s Beijing’s way of repelling criticism over sensitive issues.

The report notes, under CPEC, China is heavily investing in Pakistan to meet its strategic objectives by laying down pipelines and constructing ports. OBOR, launched in 2013, seeks to establish longstanding relationships with partner countries so that their interests align with Beijing’s.

Read more: CPEC, digital connectivity and Pakistan-China ties

China’s interests are now increasingly vulnerable to political transitions in partner countries where it’s investing under the OBOR initiative launched in 2013, the pentagon report adds.

China conducted a conference in 2019, which was aimed at addressing key concerns related to corruption, nepotism, indebtedness and environmental stability. Some countries had been voicing concerns over ‘lack of transparency’ in OBOR projects.

Indo-China clashes

On another note, the Pentagon report also touched upon the tensions between the most populous countries of the world – India and China, along the northeastern border in Arunachal Pradesh and near the Aksai Chin region at the western end of the Tibetan Plateau.

Chinese and Indian patrols regularly encounter one another along the disputed border, and both sides often accuse one another of border incursions.

Read more: How Iran’s democratic security is linked with CPEC-plus

Yet, “Chinese and Indian forces have regularly interacted since the 2017 Doklam standoff and generally kept disputes from escalating in 2019”, the report adds.

The report also notes that despite low-level face-offs among troops, both sides have prevented these incidents from escalating to the level of the 73-day border standoff at the Doklam Plateau in 2017.

Chinese and Indian officials also have continued diplomatic discussion on border issues, the Pentagon adds.

The report acknowledges that in its millennial report two decades ago, the Pentagon largely dismissed the PLA’s rise, yet it is now on track to become a “world-class military” before the middle of this century.

Read more: CPEC & the Greater Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

The report claims that China is also attempting to at least double the number of nuclear warheads in its arsenal in the next decade.

The Pentagon calculates that “Beijing will seek to develop a military by mid-century that is equal — or in some cases superior — to the US military, or that of any other great power that China views as a threat”.