Washington: China is increasing its global military footprint with an aim to become the “preeminent power” in the Indo-Pacific region as it seeks to have the ability to affect security along its periphery and beyond, a top Pentagon official said on Friday.
“China will seek to establish additional military bases overseas, as well as points for access. Press reporting in 2018 indicated China sought to expand its military basing and access in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific,” Assistant Defence Secretary for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver told reporters at a news conference here.
A report titled ‘2019 China Military Power’ released by the Pentagon on Thursday identified Pakistan as one of the countries where Beijing intends to build its military base.
“China continue to pursue global access and increase its global military footprint. Alongside its military modernisation, it seek to have the ability to affect security along China’s periphery and beyond,” Schriver said.
“China’s leaders are leveraging their growing diplomatic, economic, as well as their military clout to secure China’s status as a great power and with the aim of becoming the preeminent power in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.
Schriver said Beijing is also leveraging the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative to enhance its global role and to shape other countries’ interests so that they align with China.
China, he said, conducts influence operations, targeting media, culture, business, academia and the policy communities in the US and other countries.
Beijing also continues to use coercive economic measures — both its economic and military tools — to advance its interests and to mitigate opposition from other countries, the Pentagon official said.
Citing an example, he said, in 2018, China used economic coercion by reducing overseas trade and tourism in an effort to influence domestic politics and political institutions in countries in Oceania, including Australia and Palau.