June 29, 2017 / 10:26 AM / 2 months ago

China says Pakistan military base talk pure speculation

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Thursday that talk the country was building a military base in Pakistan was pure speculation, after a Pentagon report earlier this month singled out Pakistan as a possible location for a future Chinese military base.

The Pentagon forecast that Beijing would likely build more bases overseas after establishing a facility in the African nation of Djibouti.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian was asked at a regular monthly news briefing if China would build a naval base in the Chinese-invested Pakistani port city of Gwadar.

"Talk that China is building a military base in Pakistan is pure guesswork," Wu said, without elaborating.

Djibouti's position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fuelled worries in India that it would become another of China's "string of pearls" of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

China has repeatedly downplayed expectations it could be about to embark on a plan to build military bases around the world, even as it ramps up an impressive military modernisation programme.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie

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