China is poised to start creating a network of overseas military bases after establishing a first facility in Africa, the Pentagon has said in a report that predicts that Beijing will seek to locate a base in Pakistan.
With yearly defense spending now surpassing $180 billion a year, the report issued on June 6 says China will build on the construction of its first overseas naval base in Djibouti by "seeking to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan."
Pakistan, the report notes, is already the primary market in the Asian-Pacific region for Chinese arms. That region accounted for nearly half of China's more than $20 billion in arms exports from 2011 to 2015.
Last year, China signed an agreement with Pakistan for the sale of eight submarines.
China's military expansion ties into a broader initiative to build a "new Silk Road" of ports, railways, and roads to expand trade across an arc of countries through Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, and several countries in Central Asia have welcomed the Chinese program as a path out of poverty.
Based on reporting by AP and Reuters