Beijing: The Chinese military on Monday said the apprehensions that it plans to encircle India with a "string of pearls strategy" by establishing naval bases in the region including Pakistan`s Gwadar Port was "totally groundless".
Commenting for the first time on India`s reservations over China taking over Pakistan`s strategic port in the Arabian Sea, Senior Colonel Geng Yansheng, spokesman of China`s Ministry of National Defence, said Chinese firm`s takeover of the management rights of the Gwadar Port is a commercial project.
It is being taken over under the framework of China-Pakistan economic and trade cooperation, which is not only in the interests of the people of the two countries but also conducive to the regional prosperity and development, he said.
The so-called "string of pearls strategy" is totally groundless, the China Military Online quoted him as saying.
The port, built with Chinese assistance, was being taken over by a Chinese firm at the invitation of Pakistan after a Singapore company pulled out of the 40-year contract to run the port, citing a host of difficulties.
Geng also said Chinese People`s Liberation Army (PLA) has no overseas military base.
He said it is a common practice for naval taskforces of various countries to berth at nearby ports of coastal countries for replenishment during their ocean going voyages.
The Chinese naval escort taskforces have berthed at many ports of coastal countries for replenishment since they carried out escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast at the end of 2008.