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United States report warns of China military development overseas

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On the country's defence spending, the report said Chinese "officially-disclosed" military budget grew at an average of 8.5 per cent per year betweem 2007 and 2016, and Chinese leaders seem committed to increases in defence spending for the foreseeable future, even as China's economic growth slows.

"We hope the USA side will put aside the Cold War mentality, view China's military development in an objective and rational manner, and take concrete actions to maintain steady growth of the military relationship between the two countries", she said.

China started building its first overseas military base in February 2016 in the small nation of Djibouti, where it will be stationed just a few miles from a United States camp.

While Hua declined to comment on possible overseas bases, she said China and Pakistan - one of the countries considered most likely to host a Chinese military presence - were close friends that conduct mutually beneficial cooperation in a variety of fields.

The report further said that a more robust overseas logistics and basing infrastructure would also be essential to enable Beijing to project and sustain military power at greater distances from China.

The report comes days after US Defense Secretary James Mattis warned China against actions that "impinge on the interests of the worldwide community, undermining the rules-based order that has benefited all countries" at a security forum in Singapore.

The South Asian country is already a major destination for Chinese arms, the report said. That region accounted for $9 billion of the more than $20 billion in Chinese arms exports from 2011 to 2015.

Last year, China inked an agreement with Pakistan for the sale of eight submarines.

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China's Defence Ministry expressed its "resolute opposition" to the contents of the report, saying it hyped up the China threat theory.

A US defense official said the weapons emplacements are a concern.

The report estimates China spent US$180 billion previous year on its military, a figure well above its US$140 billion defense budget. Pakistan, which has "a precedent for hosting foreign militaries", may become another location to host a Chinese overseas compound, the Pentagon report said.

"The airfields, berthing areas, and resupply facilities on its Spratly outposts will allow China to maintain a more flexible and persistent coast guard and military presence in the area", the Pentagon report said.

It cited China's 2016 launch of the first experimental quantum communications satellite, acknowledging that it represented a "notable advance in cryptography research".

Beijing was highly critical of the new Pentagon report.

"These and past intrusions focused on accessing networks and extracting information", the report said.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis recently criticized China's land reclamation activities in the disputed Spratly Islands, describing the activities as a demonstration of "China's disregard for global law" and its "contempt for other nations' interests".

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