BEIJING (AFP) – China’s defence ministry said Thursday that the country has no military bases overseas, despite speculation that its armed forces seek to eventually establish facilities abroad.
“Currently, China has constructed no military base overseas,” ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng told reporters at a monthly briefing.
Geng was responding to a question about China’s policy toward overseas bases and under what condition the country might station ships or troops abroad.
China has been accused of seeking to develop a series of facilities around the Indian Ocean in a “string of pearls” strategy to counter the rise of its Asian rival India and secure its own economic interests.
In January last year, Pakistan’s cabinet approved the transfer of Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea from Singapore’s PSA International to the state-owned China Overseas Port Holdings Limited.
China’s acquisition of the strategic facility has been seen as part of a drive to secure energy and maritime routes and potentially provide a naval base in the Arabian Sea.
Sri Lanka opened a new $450 million deep-sea port in 2012 at Hambantota on its southern coast, built with Chinese loans and construction expertise and giving Beijing a vital foothold on the world’s busiest international shipping lane.