China to set up first military base on foreign soil

Posted July 13, 2017

A fleet of Chinese ships setting sail on Wednesday - -on a mission to to set up Beijing's first overseas military base. 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 worldwide obligations", state-run media report.

China previously stated that the logistics center will further support anti-piracy, United Nations peacekeeping and several humanitarian relief missions in western Asia and Africa.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing the base would enable China to make "new and greater contributions" to peace in Africa and the world and would benefit Djibouti's economic development.

According to the report, as the number of troops in PLA Army is decreased, the number of troops in the PLA Navy, PLA Strategic Support Force, and the PLA Rocket Force will be increased.

"It's not about seeking to control the world", said the editorial.

"The reform is based on China's strategic goals and security requirements".

"China's defence policy is defensive in nature".

Beijing officially describing the base as a logistics facility. Djibouti is a small country that covers 23,180 square kilometers of land with a population of 774,389, in the Horn of Africa right at the entrance of the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden.

Djibouti is strategically important for a number of reasons.

Camp Lemmonier, the US's only permanent military base in the continent, is also situated in the East African state. In addition, the USA operates an airfield in Djibouti from which the Pentagon launches drone strikes in the region. "It bodes well there is consideration on this from outside general sentiment", said the paper, which is distributed by the official People's Daily, said. In fact, as NPR's Renee Montagne noted when China broke ground on the base past year, the US has its own major base in the same port city where China is establishing its military presence.

But American military leaders have said they don't see it as a threat that will interfere with USA operations there.

Paice points out that China made a substantial investment in Djibouti - about $500 million, according to reports - to build the Djibouti portion of a rail line to the capital of neighboring Ethiopia.