US intelligence chief warns of China spending to boost influence

Coats answers questions during a hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington.
Coats answers questions during a hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned on Tuesday (March 6) that China is spending "an extraordinary amount of money" to increase its international standing, worrying its neighbours and threatening US influence.

"A report was recently released, an unclassified version, that China will spend about US$8 billion (S$10.6 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 US Senate hearing on "Worldwide Threats".

China on Monday unveiled its largest defence spending increase in three years, setting an 8.1 per cent growth target this year, fuelling an ambitious military modernisation programme.

US 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.