The US Defense Department has accused China of pursuing an aggressive military build-up to combat US interests whilst also maintaining concentration camps which have detained close to three million Muslims.
Randall Schriver, assistant secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, said that "at least a million [Uighurs and other minorities], but likely closer to three million, out of a total population of about 10 million” are being detained in “concentration camps”.
The Chinese have continued to deny the allegation describing these camps as “education centres”.
Last year Amnesty International accused China of using these camps as;
“[part of a] campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation against the region's Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups.”
The defence department report states:
"China's advancement of projects such as the 'One Belt, One Road' Initiative will probably drive military overseas basing through a perceived need to provide security for OBOR projects”
China’s ambition to establish military bases in countries it has friendly relationships and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan.
The country seeks to modernise its forces and to make “PLA [People's Liberation Army] into a 'world-class' military by 2049”. The Chinese have consciously engaged in activities that “fall below the threshold of provoking armed conflict with the United States, its allies and partners, or others in the Indo-Pacific region”.
Speaking to the House Appropriations Subcommittee, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said:
"I'm confident we have the ability to mitigate the risk and manage a crisis with Russia," but with China "we don't have that same capability,"
"With China, for more than a decade, we attempted to create a formal framework" for military-to-military communications similar to the Russian framework, Dunford said, but "I am not confident that that's where it needs to be now.”