China to Open Its First Overseas Military Base in Djibouti

Ships carrying Chinese military personnel have left for the country's first base in Djibouti

Naval force administrator Shen Jinlong "read a request on developing the base in Djibouti" yet the report did not state when the base may formally start operations.

"The use of the logistics base in Djibouti will enable China to fulfill its global duty more efficiently, including patrol missions and participation in humanitarian operations", Geng said at a briefing.

"Firstly, it is indeed the People's Liberation Army's first overseas base; China will station troops there, and it is not a commercial resupply point", the paper writes.

The People's Liberation Army Daily said in a front-page commentary that the facility was a landmark that would increase China's ability to ensure global peace, especially because it had so many United Nations peacekeepers in Africa and was so involved in anti-piracy patrols.

Their destination? The port of Djibouti, here in the Horn of Africa.

"The base will ensure China's performance of missions, such as escorting, peace-keeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia", it said.

Making peace The ships left Zhanjiang in southern China for Djibouti on Tuesday
Making peace The ships left Zhanjiang in southern China for Djibouti on Tuesday

Djibouti, a small country at the Horn of Africa, is situated on the northwest edge of the Indian Ocean where China has increasingly been sailing its warships and sending submarines, causing concern in India.

It added that China will under no circumstances be seeking military expansionism or become involve in arms races. Djibouti, approximately the size of Wales, has a strategic location at the meeting of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and already hosts US, Japanese and French bases.

"This is the first time that active PLA Army personnel would be reduced to below one million", said a report in the PLA Daily on structural reform in the military.

However, state-run Global Times said, there could be no mistake that this was a military base. The project is a revival of ancient silk routes, and is also a way for China to assert geopolitical influence in places where US President Donald Trump's "America First" policy has left a power vacuum. It makes sense there is attention on this from foreign public opinion, ” the editorial states.

This new military base is essentially China serving its own interests to try and protect itself as well as assert its dominance geopolitically. While other countries have been willing to pay for basing rights, China has invested across multiple sectors of the Djiboutian economy, including in rail and port infrastructure, banks, industrial parks and more.

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