Tags: china | naval base | djbouti | africa

Report: China Plans Naval Base in Same African Country as US

Report: China Plans Naval Base in Same African Country as US
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By    |   Friday, 01 April 2016 04:06 PM

China will station "a few thousand" naval troops and staff in the same African country where the United States has a 4,500-member base that specializes in counterterrorism operations across the region.

The base would be the first permanent overseas operation in Beijing's history, The Financial Times reported Friday, and it will be located in Djibouti, a country located in the Horn of Africa.

Bordered in part by Ethiopia and Somalia, Djibouti is a key strategic location at the southern entrance to the Red Sea from the Indian Ocean, with 30 percent of the world's shipping passing close by, the Times reports.

The nation sits at the mouth of Bab el-Mandeb Strait, leading to the Suez Canal. More than 90 percent of Djibouti's 810,000 residents practice Islam. Arabic and French are the country's official languages.

While Beijing has said little about its plans in Djibouti — the Times said the government only describes the base as "logistical facilities" with no further details — plans were disclosed by Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, Djibouti’s foreign minister.

He said that the communist nation planned to use the base primarily to protect its national interest, including monitoring its commercial ships passing the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and for refueling and restocking vessels.

Beijing, like the United States and France, would have the right to use drones in the region, he said. China is also building a second major airport in the country, he said.

"The Americans have enough technology, enough fighter aircraft, enough drones [here] to control each and every piece of this land and even beyond," Youssouf told the Times. "Why should the Chinese not have the right to also use those materials . . . to preserve and protect their interests in the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb?"

Tom Kelly, the U.S. ambassador to Djibouti, said that having a Chinese base in the same country as the Americans "will be a challenge for all involved."

Concerns range from eavesdropping on activities at the U.S. operation, which primarily engages in broad-based covert anti-terror efforts, to fears China may develop other bases to gain greater strategic control over waterways leading into Europe, the Times reports.

Under the agreement with Djibouti, Beijing will pay $20 million a year to rent its site. That compares with the $63 million the United States pays — which has nearly doubled by mutual agreement in 2014, the Times reports.

Both nations have a 10-year contract with an option to extend it for another decade, Youssouf said.

"The terms of the contract and agreement are very clear and they are the same for each and every country that requested military presence in Djibouti," he told the Times.

Japan has its only overseas military base in Djibouti — and Tokyo is in a tense stalemate with Beijing over territorial issues in the East China Sea, according to the report.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry declined to respond to requests for comment about the new operation, the Times reports.

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China will station "a few thousand" naval troops and staff in the same African country where the United States has a 4,500-member base that specializes in counterterrorism operations across the region.
china, naval base, djbouti, africa
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2016-06-01
Friday, 01 April 2016 04:06 PM
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