Normangee Star July 13, 2017
China to Open Its First Overseas Military Base in Djibouti
Two ships carrying soldiers and military equipment left the southern port of Zhanjiang on Tuesday, following a farewell ceremony by the People’s Liberation Army for the units in charge of the new base, Efe news reported. “There are some very significant operational security concerns” with regard to China’s base development. China has been actively participating in anti-piracy measures in the region, with a reported 16,000 sailors and 1,300 marines serving in the Gulf of Aden between 2008 and 2015.
The People’s Liberation Army personnel are to “set up a support base in Djibouti”, according to the report. It’s not a business resupply point.
But while China may downplay the importance of moving the amphibious transport dock and mobile landing platform vessels to Djibouti, the significance of establishing its first permanent overseas military facilities in such a strategic location is undeniable.
The People’s Liberation Army Daily said in a front-page commentary that the new base would help China fulfil its obligations in ensuring global peace, working with its huge United Nations peacekeeping force in Africa and its anti-piracy patrols.
As it continues efforts to exert influence abroad, China has begun sending troops to its first overseas military base in the tiny east African country of Djibouti – a move which could see it outflank the U.S.in the region.
One of the world’s most important sea lanes, millions of barrels of oil and petroleum products pass through the strait daily, according to GlobalSecurity.org. China has ramped up investment in Africa, as well as rapidly modernised its military in recent years. In addition, the USA operates an airfield in Djibouti from which the Pentagon launches drone strikes in the region.
AFP noted that the US military downplayed concerns about China’s military base construction in the small African country. The Pentagon is investing millions in the base, and satellite photos show several construction projects, the center reported a year ago. It specifically uses US bases as an example, pointing out that many USA overseas bases are tasked with military deterrence and regional monitoring.
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