China Sends Off Personnel for First Overseas Military Base

Terry Joseph
July 13, 2017

"Surely this is the People's Liberation Army's first overseas base and we will base troops there". This forms part of China's strategic intentions, Naidu says, with the country wanting to become more embedded in these regions.

According to the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) Navy, the decision to establish the base was taken as a result of the friendly relations between Djibouti and China. After a ceremony in the southern port city of Zhanjiang, military personnel embarked on a voyage to the East African country of Djibouti to establish an outpost "conducive to China's performance of global obligations", state-run media report.

Shen Jinlong, commander of the People's Liberation Army Navy, read an order on constructing the base in Djibouti and bestowed the military flag on the fleet at the departure ceremony, according to Xinhua news agency.

In August 2015, Djibouti had reportedly ordered the U.S. to vacate its secondary Obock military base in the country in a bid to turn over the installation to the Chinese military and its contingent of 10,000 troops. 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. "It's not a commercial resupply point", the Global Times said in an editorial.

"China's defence policy is defensive in nature. It is taking on a global outlook ... and incorporating new concepts such as the protection of overseas interests and open seas protection", said the ECFR report.

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"So China's naval base, while serving China's purposes first, is also part of that message to Africa, saying, 'We're here for the long-term'". In addition, the US operates an airfield in Djibouti from which the Pentagon launches drone strikes in the region.

In February, 2016, China announced it was building a logistical facility in Djibouti.

A spokesperson for the Japan Self Defense Forces said 170 troops are at its 30-acre facility in Djibouti. "Foreign public opinion focuses on the base for good reason; this base will support China's navy to go farther afield, and it is of great significance".

"It's a confluence of these factors - trade, military, and stability in the host country's government" that brought China to Djibouti, Paice said. "It's as simple as that".

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