If you didn’t know, exclusive operating rights to the Panama Canal were given away in 1977 by then-President Jimmy Carter, followed by a American withdrawal in 1999 followed by full sovereignty rights being relinquished to Panama in 2000. During this time frame, rights to manage the canal were auctioned off to China in 1996 under Bill Clinton. China completely controls who goes in and who comes out.
Should war against China break out, and the PLA says war is imminent, the U.S. will be forced to go into battle against carrier killers (range = 1000+ miles) before it ever sees one PLAN vessel with only the Pacific Fleet and expect very little strategic reinforcement for quite some time. In summary, this is likely a devastating loss for the U.S..
In May, Djibouti’s president announced that China was in talks for setting a military base in the small nation in the Horn of Africa. And though Beijing has declined to confirm the reports, the news has already raised some concerns in Washington.
As a fairly stable country positioned between Yemen and Somalia, Djibouti plays an important strategic role for the US. The country additionally overlooks the Bab al-Mandeb straits, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
The US military’s headquarters in the region, Camp Lemonnier, is based in the country and is used for covert operations, including anti-terror, in Yemen, Somalia, and across Africa.
Djibouti’s port has been used by European and other navies, including China’s, to fight against piracy from neighboring Somalia. Japan and France also have military bases located there.
In an interview with AFP in May, President Ismail Omar Guelleh said that China is in negotiations with his country to set up a military base in the strategic port.
“France’s presence is old, and the Americans found that the position of Djibouti could help in the fight against terrorism in the region,” he said. “The Japanese want to protect themselves from piracy – and now the Chinese also want to protect their interests, and they are welcome.”
Beijing has become a key economic partner to Djibouti in recent years. In 2014, Guelleh switched a port operating contract to a Chinese company from a Dubai-based operator when the latter was accused of corruption.
Full article: Is China Building a Military Base in Djibouti? (Sputnik News)