China Officially Sets Up Its First Overseas Base in Djibouti

Delia Watkins
July 13, 2017

After a ceremony in the southern port city of Zhanjiang, military personnel embarked on a voyage to the East African country of Djibouti to establish an outpost "conducive to China's performance of worldwide obligations", state-run media report.

China says it will use the base to assist anti-piracy operations, United Nations peacekeeping and humanitarian relief missions in Africa and western Asia.

According to a report by the Global Times, Jun Zhengping Studio, a WeChat account run by the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese military, published an article on structural reform in the military on Tuesday, saying that "the old military structure, where the Army accounts for the vast majority, will be replaced after the reform". "This base can support Chinese Navy to go farther, so it means a lot", said the paper.

This new military base is essentially China serving its own interests to try and protect itself as well as assert its dominance geopolitically.

At a regular press briefing Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang described the base as part of ongoing efforts to help bring peace and security to the region.

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.

State news agency Xinhua did not say when the base would begin operations.

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"It also stimulates the social and economic development of Djibouti".

In 2015, China detached three navy ships from the anti-piracy patrols to rescue Chinese citizens and other foreign nationals from fighting in Yemen.

"China's involvement in African security is a product of a wider transformation of China's national defense policy". Djibouti might appear to be an unassuming African state, but its location makes it strategic for military superpowers.

In February, 2016, China announced it was building a logistical facility in Djibouti.

China joins the US, France and Japan, among others, with permanent bases in Djibouti, a former French colony with a population of less than one million residents.

The Chinese base in Djibouti is a significant investment, but Beijing has also built a large $590 million port near Djibouti City in the Gulf of Aden.

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