Amid reports that China’s “logistic facilities centre” in Djibouti includes weapons stores and small contingents of marines, the state-run media here today asserted that Beijing has no intention of following the US pattern of establishing military bases around the world.
China has no intention of following the US pattern of establishing military bases around the world to project its power over other countries, and Chinese facilities in Djibouti are meant to support Chinese peace-keeping and anti-piracy missions near Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, a report in the state-run Global Times said.
“Due for completion next year, the naval outpost is expected to feature weapons stores, ship and helicopter maintenance facilities and possibly a small contingent of Chinese marines or special forces,” the Wall Street Journal, (WSJ) on Friday cited experts monitoring the base’s development as saying.
The WSJ report said the outpost is a historic step that marks a bold new phase in China’s evolution as a world power. It went on to say that it is a sign of “China’s strategy to extend its military reach across the Indian Ocean and beyond”.
“They are misinterpreting China’s foreign policy, believing that China intends to follow the US pattern of building military bases globally or to meddle in other countries’ domestic affairs,” Li Weijian, a professor of West Asian and African Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies said.
China has a very limited overseas military deployment and the country largely lacks the capacity to protect its citizens and interests in Africa, the report aid. “The facilities in Djibouti serve to protect China’s economic interests in Africa and to help safeguard regional peace, as China is only beginning to learn to behave like a responsible global power,” Li said.
Djibouti provides a major foothold in the Indian Ocean for China in the Indian Ocean. The Chinese Ministry of Defence early this year said under a deal reached between China and Djibouti, the facilities will also help Chinese troops carry out international peacekeeping operations and perform humanitarian rescues.
Chinese Foreign Ministry earlier said the centre, which the American defence officials termed as a military base is aimed to provide better facilities to the personnel on Chinese vessels can get better rest and replenishments. Djibouti is strategically located near the world’s busiest shipping lanes, controlling access to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. It serves as a key refuelling and transshipment centre, and is the principal maritime port for imports to and exports from neighbouring Ethiopia.
China uses Indian Ocean Island nation of Seychelles where Chinese escort ships halt for supply and rest facilities and invested in two major ports, Hambathota and Colombo in Sri Lanka. In the Arabian Sea China has taken over the Pakistan port of Gwadar as part of its development of the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.