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China is using ‘debt diplomacy’ to expand its global influence and Hambantota Port could soon become a forward military base for Beijing’s growing blue-water navy, US Vice President Mike Pence has said on Thursday.

According to PTI, Pence said China was offering hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure loans to governments from Asia to Africa to Europe to even Latin America.

“Yet the terms of those loans are opaque at best, and the benefits flow overwhelmingly to Beijing,” Pence said.

In a foreign policy speech at the Hudson Institute, a top American think-tank, Pence alleged China uses so-called ‘debt diplomacy’ to expand its influence.

“Just ask Sri Lanka, which took on massive debt to let Chinese state companies build a port with questionable commercial value. Two years ago, that country could no longer afford its payments – so Beijing pressured Sri Lanka to deliver the new port directly into Chinese hands. It may soon become a forward military base for China’s growing blue-water navy,” Pence said.

Beijing is also corrupting some nations’ politics by providing direct support to parties and candidates who promise to accommodate China’s strategic objectives, he said.

“Since last year, the Chinese Communist Party has convinced three Latin American nations to sever ties with Taipei and recognise Beijing. These actions threaten the stability of the Taiwan Strait – and the US condemns these actions,” Pence said.

He said while the Trump administration will continue to respect One China Policy, as reflected in the three joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act, America will always believe Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people.

“These are only a few of the ways that China has sought to advance its strategic interests across the world, with growing intensity and sophistication. Yet previous administrations all but ignored China’s actions – and in many cases, they abetted them. But those days are over,” Pence asserted.

Under President Trump’s leadership, the US interests have been defended with renewed American strength, he claimed.

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