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China May Set Up Military Base In Pakistan

PTI 29 Jan 2010, 11:09:26 AM IST
PTI

China has signaled it wants to go the US way and set up military bases in overseas locations that would possibly include Pakistan. The obvious purpose would be to exert pressure on India as well as counter US influence in Pakistan and Afghanistan, reports Times of India. 

"(So) it is baseless to say that we will not set up any military bases in future because we have never sent troops abroad," an article published on Thursday at a Chinese government website said. "It is our right," the article said and went on to suggest that it would be done in the neighborhood, possibly Pakistan. 

"As for the military aspect, we should be able to conduct the retaliatory attack within the country or at the neighboring area of our potential enemies. We should also be able to put pressure on the potential enemies' overseas interests," it said. 

A military base in Pakistan will also help China keep a check on Muslim Uighur separatists fighting for an independent nation in its western region of Xingjian, which borders the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Beijing recently signed an agreement with the local government of NWFP in order to keep a close watch on the movement of Uighur ultras. 

"I have personally felt for sometime that China might one day build a military base in India's neighborhood. China built the Gadwar port in Pakistan and is now broadening the Karokoram highway. These facilities can always be put to military use when the need arises," Ramesh V Phadke, former Air Commodore and advisor to the Institute of Defense Studies told TNN. 

Phadke said the article in very significant. "The purpose may be to see how the international community reacts to it," he said. 

China, which has no military bases outside its territory, has often criticized the United States for operating such overseas bases. It has not just changed its standpoint but also wants to enter the lucrative protection business. 

"With further development, China will be in great demand of the military protection," the article said. Pakistan, which buys 70% of its military hardware from China, is likely to be an eager buyer for such protection. Beijing may also be able to pressurize Islamabad to accept its diktat using the threat of withholding military supplies. 

A Pakistani expert on China-Pakistan relationship has a different view on the subject. "The Americans had a base in the past and it caused a political stink. I don't think it would be politically possible for the Pakistani government to openly allow China to set up a military base," he said while requesting anonymity. Pakistan might allow use of its military facilities without publicly announcing it, he said. 

A Chinese military base can tackle several international relations issues, it said. One of them is "the relationship between the base troops and the countries neighboring to the host country." This is another indication that Beijing is considering Pakistan as a possible base. China's argument is that a foreign base would actually help regional stability. 

"If the base troops can maintain the regional stability, it will be probably welcomed by all the countries in the region," the article said. Beijing is conscious that the move might result in opposition from the US, UK and France which has overseas military bases. 

“Thirdly, the relationship between the big countries in the world. The establishment of the troop bases is sensitive to those big countries which have already set up the bases abroad," the article said.