Abraham Denmark, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, provided details of the Defense Department‘s annual report to Congress about Chinese military and security developments during a press briefing held Friday at the Pentagon, DoD News reported Friday.
Denmark told reporters Friday the department estimated that China spent more than $180 billion on military programs during 2015.
He said DoD observed the country has used assertive maritime strategies to reclaim outposts and construct bases on several islands in the South China Sea.
“China’s leaders are leveraging the country’s power to expand its international influence — and its military footprint overseas,” he added, according to DoD News.
He also pointed to the Chinese government’s efforts to increase the ability of the People’s Liberation Army to perform joint operations through the establishment of new geographic commands.
“As the United States builds a stronger foundation for a military-to-military relationship with China, we will continue to monitor China’s evolving military strategy, doctrine, and force development,” Denmark told reporters.
He added the DoD aims to encourage China to be more transparent about the country’s military modernization efforts.