China dispatches troops to set up military base in Djibouti

by Edgar Hayes July 13, 2017, 0:23
China dispatches troops to set up military base in Djibouti

China will for the first time downsize its Army to under one million and evenly proportion the army and other services, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) said.

China says the logistics center will support anti-piracy, United Nations peacekeeping and humanitarian relief missions in Africa and western Asia. In 2011, China has sent a warship together with a military transport aircraft to help evacuate more than 35,000 Chinese citizens from the country of Libya. The project is a revival of ancient silk routes, and is also a way for China to assert geopolitical influence in places where US President Donald Trump's "America First" policy has left a power vacuum. "It's not a commercial resupply point", the Global Times said in an editorial.

Specifically, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that means supporting anti-piracy efforts in the region, performing "humanitarian rescue" and helping to "drive Djibouti's economic and social development".

China has deployed vessels to the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast on escort missions since 2008.

Located on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean, Djibouti sits well in China's move to encircle India with military alliances and assets, including the "string of pearls" assets in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

The report didn't specify the number of troops or ships that departed for Djibouti, nor when the base would start operations.

But the "essential objective of China's development of its military might is to protect "China's safety", and is not about seeking to control the world", it said. In fact, it has been Djibouti's lone long-term strategic partner. "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.

"Surely this is the People's Liberation Army's first overseas base and we will base troops there". In addition, the US operates an airfield in Djibouti from which the Pentagon launches drone strikes in the region. And while China officially describes the Djibouti base as a logistics facility, this will be China's first overseas naval base.

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