Djibouti: China Is Establishing Its First Permanent Military Mission Overseas

A Xinhua report said the first ships carrying Chinese military personnel departed Zhanjiang in southern China's Guangdong Province on Tuesday to set up a support base in Djibouti.

On Tuesday, China's People's Liberation Army Daily said the Djibouti facility was a landmark that would increase China's ability to ensure global peace, especially because the country has so many United Nations peacekeepers in Africa and was also involved in anti-piracy patrols.

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"The base will likewise be helpful for overseas undertakings including military participation, joint activities, clearing and ensuring overseas Chinese and crisis safeguard, and additionally mutually keeping up the security of global vital seaways", the report.

This new military base is essentially China serving its own interests to try and protect itself as well as assert its dominance geopolitically. After all, establishing its presence in the East African nation would aid China's long-standing antipiracy mission in the Gulf of Aden, alongside humanitarian projects in Africa and western Asia.

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It will also be used for military co-operation, naval exercises and rescue missions, said the Xinhua report. Djibouti's position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fueled worries 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. "In the past, the PLA focused on ground battle and homeland defence, which will undergo fundamental changes", said the article widely shared on China's social media.

Beijing officially describing the base as a logistics facility. In fact, it has been Djibouti's lone long-term strategic partner.

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It also hosts the US, Japanese and French military bases. It makes sense there is attention on this from foreign public opinion, " said the paper, which is published by the official People's Daily. The Chinese government signed a 10 year agreement with their Djibouti counterpart in 2015 to start work on the military base in the African state. "It's logical that it needs an actual base somewhere in Africa, which is really no different from the Americans saying that they need Camp Lemonnier as a headquarters for operations in Africa, whether in peacekeeping or counterterror or whatever", Paice said on The Cipher Brief website.

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