China sends troops to open first overseas military base in Djibouti
- China has dispatched troops to set up its first ever overseas military base in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti. The move marks a key part of a wide-ranging expansion of the role of China’s armed forces.
- China’s agreement with Djibouti ensures its military presence in the country up until 2026, with a contingent of up to 10,000 soldiers
- It will be China’s first overseas naval base, though Beijing officially describes it as a logistics facility.
- It will be used to resupply navy ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular.
- The base will ensure China’s performance of missions, such as escorting, peace-keeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia.
Why in Djibouti?
- It is now one of the more important security beachheads in the developing world.
- Its location also matters greatly to global commerce and energy, due to its vicinity to the Mandeb Strait and the Suez-Aden canal, which sees ten percent of the world’s oil exports and 20 percent of its commercial exports annually.
- Djibouti is a resource-poor nation of 14,300 square miles and 875,000 people in the Horn of Africa
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.
The US Posture
- U.S. strategists worry that a naval port so close to Camp Lemonnier could provide a front-row seat to the staging ground for U.S. counterterrorism operations in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.
- The base, which is run by the Navy and abuts Djibouti’s international airport, is the only permanent U.S. military installation in Africa.