March 6, 2018 / 4:11 PM / in 5 months

U.S. intelligence chief warns of China spending to boost influence

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned on Tuesday that China is spending “an extraordinary amount of money” to increase its international standing, worrying its neighbours and threatening U.S. influence.

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

“A report was recently released, an unclassified version, that China will spend about $8 billion in 68 different nations establishing its geostrategic positioning, not only for economic purposes and trade purposes, but also for use of military facilities,” Coats told a U.S. Senate hearing on “Worldwide Threats.”

China on Monday unveiled its largest defence spending increase in three years, setting an 8.1 percent growth target this year, fuelling an ambitious military modernization program.

U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed the largest military budget since 2011, focused on beefing up the United States’ nuclear defences and countering the growing strength of China and Russia.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Eric Walsh; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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