Chinese J-15 fighter jets wait on the deck of an aircraft carrier during military drills in the Bohai Sea last year. AFP
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Chinese President Xi Jinping's pledge to build a "world-class army" by 2050 is making his neighbors nervous, but analysts say Beijing's military ambitions do not constitute a strategic threat – for now. With purchases and construction of fighter jets, ships and hi-tech weaponry, China's military budget has grown steadily for 30 years, but remains three times smaller than that of the United States.This summer India and China engaged in a bitter, weekslong military confrontation over a disputed area in the Himalayas.China's military expenditure in 2016 was an estimated $215 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, putting it in first place in Asia, well ahead of India ($56 billion), Japan ($46 billion) and South Korea ($37 billion).This year, Beijing opened its first foreign military base, in Djibouti.The country is the largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations among the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, with some 2,500 soldiers and military experts deployed.
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