China reacts to US military expansion plan

Beijing urged its neighbors to be wary of Washington’s growing footprint

The Chinese Defense Ministry has called on Asia-Pacific nations to be on the lookout for US military deployments in the region, citing Pentagon’s plan to rebuild a World War II-era airfield in the Pacific.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, military spokesman Wu Qian said the airfield scheme was merely a way for Washington to “maintain its hegemony,” a move that would only “stoke confrontation.”

“The Chinese military is paying close attention to moves by the United States, and will firmly safeguard China’s maritime rights, security and sovereignty in the region,” he said.

Wu went on to slam such deployments as part of a “Cold War mindset,” echoing past condemnations of US military activity across the region, including regular transits of the disputed Taiwan Strait by American naval vessels.

Earlier this month, US Air Force General Kenneth Wilsbach told Japanese media that the Pentagon would soon make major progress in reclaiming the abandoned Tinian airfield – which was used for the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War, but has since fallen into disrepair.

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The general noted the renovation project was part of a broader plan to station American warplanes across the region.

“If you pay attention in the next few months, you will see significant progress,” Wilsbach added, though did not offer an exact timeframe for when the installation would be ready for use.

Abandoned after World War II, the Tinian airbase is located on a small islet in the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory north of Guam and about 1,800 miles (3,000km) east of the Chinese mainland.

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