BRI will help China add to its global military bases, says Pentagon

Margerie, an ice-class tanker fitted out to transport liquefied natural gas is docked in Arctic port of Sabetta Yamalo Nenets district Russia

China could use force to push Taiwan into unification or into unification dialogue, the United States Department of Defense said in its annual military report, which was issued Thursday.

The assessment is included in the military's annual report to the US Congress on China's armed forces and follows Beijing's publication of its first official Arctic policy white paper in June past year.

It also mentioned China's growing interest in the arctic, referring to a "polar silk road" initiative.

State Department officials are mum on whether Mr. Pompeo intends to directly confront China or Russian Federation in the speech at a multinational conference of the Arctic Council, but suggested during a background call with reporters that the secretary is most concerned about Beijing's expanding movements in the region. One topic that deserves special attention is China's increasingly concerning role in the Arctic, where Beijing appears to have ambitious economic and military plans that should worry the United States.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will deliver a major speech Monday in Finland on the administration's evolving policy toward territorial disputes in the Arctic amid heightened US concern over expanding Chinese and Russian maritime operations there.

Countries in the Arctic region have questioned China's reach into the area, including Denmark, which has expressed concern with China's interest in Greenland.

The report warned of a possible strengthened military presence in the Northern Sea Route, "which could include deploying submarines to the region as a deterrent against nuclear attacks".

The Pentagon anticipated China will field between 65 and 70 submarines by 2020, roughly a dozen of them nuclear-powered.

In a January report, the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency said the Chinese navy would need a minimum of five Jin-class submarines to maintain a continuous nuclear deterrence at sea. He said China continues to challenge US military advantages, such as America's ability to deploy and sustain forces anywhere in the world and its unparalleled alliance system.

Although Beijing's official defense budget for previous year was US$175 billion, the Pentagon estimated that it actually topped US$200 billion when including research, development and foreign weapons procurement.

How strong is China's defense capability compared to that of the U.S? The Pentagon report says China has sold arms worth over $5 billion to Pakistan, which range from the Caihong armed drones and precision-strike weapons to eight Yuan-class submarines and four Type-054A multi-role frigates.

Beijing now has just one overseas military base, in Djibouti, but is believed to be planning others, including possibly Pakistan.

"We certainly don't see conflict with China, and it doesn't preclude cooperation where interests align", Schriver told reporters.

The 2018 National Defense Strategy listed China as a competitor and a threat for its expanding influence in the Pacific and militarization of islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

China's military spending, while still only a fraction of America's, is also being presented as "laying the groundwork" for a military invasion of Taiwan.

But the US analysis appeared to downplay prospects for a large-scale amphibious Chinese invasion, saying that could strain its armed forces and invite global intervention. The U.S. has 11 carriers, with four more under development.

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