China just added first foreign military base

China PLA personnel overseas base Djibouti military base at Djibouti Indian Ocean region world news

China PLA personnel overseas base Djibouti military base at Djibouti Indian Ocean region world news

A report by China's official Xinhua news agency said the decision to set up the base was "made by the two countries after friendly negotiations".

China on Tuesday dispatched members of its People's Liberation Army to the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti to man the rising Asian giant's first overseas military base, a key part of a wide-ranging expansion of the role of China's armed forces.

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. China had already begun construction of a logistics base in Djibouti a year ago that they claimed will aim to resupply naval vessels working for peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Somalia and Yemen. This will be China's first overseas naval base, although Beijing officially terms it a logistics facility.

While the PLA Navy said that the decision to make a base was a decision made between the two countries after friendly negotiation, India and USA have been much concerned with the set up by China since the country plans to take over the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka.

China began construction of a logistics base in Djibouti previous year. "The completion and operation of the base will help China better fulfill its global obligations in conducting escorting missions and humanitarian assistance ..."

"The base will also be conducive to overseas tasks including military cooperation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of global strategic seaways", Xinhua said.

"It's a confluence of these factors - trade, military, and stability in the host country's government" that brought China to Djibouti, Edward Paice, director of the London-based Africa Research Institute, said. The report also suggested a more worrisome fact: that the Chinese base in the northern Obock region might eclipse smaller U.S. bases here.

Meanwhile, an editorial in the state-run Global Times seemed to refer to the facility as a proper base, rather than a logistics facility.

China is the main trading partner of Africa since 2008.

"Blue-helmet deployments give the PLA a chance to build up field experience overseas - and to help secure Chinese economic interests in places such as South Sudan", said the ECFR report. Near Djibouti is the Bab El-Mandeb - the "gate" to the Suez canal, which is one of the busiest sea routes in the world.

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. We see a tremendous investment in media on continent to tell that China story to Africans and more exchange programs for African students and engineers to go to China, something that the West used to offer but has decreased since September 11.

China has leased the port for an initial 10-year period and will pay $20 million yearly rental to the Djibouti government.

China's expanding presence and its base at Djibouti is a matter of concern for the US.

As some political analysts have said, the significance of China's move to establish a base in Africa should not be underestimated, nor should it be exaggerated.

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