China plans a military base in Djibouti

A small follow-up article from a previous post:


Beijing: China has announced plans to establish its first overseas military outpost in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, amid a sweeping overhaul of its military designed to make the world’s largest army better equipped to project force abroad.

China’s Defence Ministry refrained from calling the new installation a military base, instead saying the construction of “military supporting facilities” would help provide logistical support for Chinese peacekeeping and anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden. But analysts say the facility has potential to become a platform for operations in Africa and the Middle East.

The outpost, in the tiny former French colony bordering Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, is also the United States’ only military base on the continent, used as a launching pad for its counter-terrorism operations and drones program in the region.

China has frequently cited its longstanding policy against emulating the US in building overseas military installations as evidence of its peaceful rise and lack of expansionist intentions.

But under President Xi Jinping, China has refocused the military’s ambitions beyond its traditional role of protecting domestic borders, overseeing a rapid expansion of both geographic reach and technical capability to help safeguard its increasingly global economic interests, while backing up its more assertive stance on territorial claims in the East and South China seas.

China’s planned facility in Djibouti reflects the leading role the navy has played in its drive for military modernisation, and its stated ambitions to be a leading maritime power.

It is also the product of China’s extensive economic clout on the African continent. It has invested heavily in Djibouti’s infrastructure, including an upgrade of the former French colony’s port and a multibillion-dollar railroad that extends into landlocked Ethiopia, where China is investing in mining and natural gas extraction.

Djibouti’s strategic location, in turn, enables China to protect its oil imports along a key shipping route from the Middle East. As well as the US, both Japan and France have a military presence in Djibouti.

Full article: China plans a military base in Djibouti (The Age)

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