China set to build its first overseas army base in East Africa

  • China set to build its first overseas army base in East Africa

China set to build its first overseas army base in East Africa

Ships carrying Chinese military personnel departed Zhanjiang in southern China's Guangdong Province on Tuesday to set up a support base in Djibouti.

A report from the Pentagon recently suggested that China is likely to open a military base in Pakistan, India's main rival in Asia. The first stop is Djibouti, where Beijing has made a decision to set up its first overseas military base though officials describe it as a logistics facility.

It is the first such base being set up by China.

The Donghai Island can serve as a rescue vessel since it could be used to build a temporary wharf and offer assistance in repairing damaged ships during war time, Song said, adding that the ship is usually used to transfer materials and goods.

China began construction of a logistics base in Djibouti previous year to resupply its naval vessels participating in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Somalia and Yemen, including against Somali pirates.

The representative of the Ministry of foreign Affairs of China Geng Shuang at the daily briefing said that the base in Djibouti will allow China to "contribute" to the maintenance of peace in Africa and beyond, and will contribute to economic development in Djibouti, the economy of which is operation of the port. In fact, as NPR's Renee Montagne noted when China broke ground on the base a year ago, the US has its own major base in the same port city where China is establishing its military presence. "These promises will not change because of the construction of the overseas logistics base".

"China has been deploying naval ships to waters off Somalia in the Gulf of Aden to conduct escorting missions since 2008", said Geng.

On Wednesday, a Chinese editorial dispelled any rumors that turned this facility into a tool to seek control over the world.

Meanwhile, for Djibouti, it's all about money, Paice said.

People's Daily, another Communist Party paper, said in a commentary that the reason for Western countries' "undue focus on China's small military camp" is their view that Beijing will "also try to control the world with its expanding military power just like they [Western powers] did before".

The Communist Party-affiliated Global Times did not play down the base's significance, describing it as the People's Liberation Army's "first overseas base where troops will be stationed instead of offering commercial logistics support".

The newspaper pointed out that the US, Japan and France also have military bases in Djibouti.

Djibouti's position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fuelled worry in India that it would become another of China's "string of pearls" of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, reports Reuters news agency.

In 2015 Chinese President Xi Jinping committed 8,000 troops to the UN peacekeeping standby force - one fifth of the 40,000 total troops committed by 50 nations - China also pledged $100m to the African Union standby force and $1bn to establish the UN Peace and Development Trust Fund.

In return, Africa supplies China with natural resources, minerals and energy. In 2015, Beijing embarked on its first overseas peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.