The U.S. Department of Defense says the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan is among the countries China may be planning to set up new military bases as it expands the world's largest standing ground force.
The Pentagon's annual report to Congress, a 200-page unclassified version of which was released on September 1, also said that Beijing plans to double its current nuclear warhead stockpile over the next decade.
"The [People's Republic of China] has likely considered locations for [People's Liberation Army] military logistics facilities in Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Seychelles, Tanzania, Angola, and Tajikistan," the report said, adding that Beijing's sea force is the largest navy, with a strong ship-building capacity in reserve.
Tajikistan currently houses about 7,000 troops from Russia’s 201st Motor Rifle Division at three facilities in the Central Asian nation that are considered part of the Russian base in Tajikistan.
Russia has not commented officially on the mention of Tajikistan in the Pentagon report.
The report estimates that Beijing currently has some 200 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, emphasizing that Chinese capacity with regard to its ground-launched cruise missiles is greater than the United States.
According to the report, China's goal is to become a more robust great power as its leadership sees itself in competition with the United States and is starting to use its armed forces to project power internationally.
China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, rejected the report on September 2, denying that Beijing wants to double the number of its nuclear warheads and saying that the report was filled with bias.