China to Open Its First Overseas Military Base in Djibouti

Tenants include France, Japan and the United States, and China's decision to move in just a few miles away from a key Pentagon base has caused consternation among some USA commentators.

Djibouti has a population less than a million but has high value due to its proximity to a busy shipping route.

The People's Liberation Army Daily said in a front-page commentary that the new base would help China fulfil its obligations in ensuring global peace, working with its huge United Nations peacekeeping force in Africa and its anti-piracy patrols.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing that the establishment of the base was a decision made by the two countries after friendly negotiations and will be conducive to China's performance of global obligations.

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

For now, Djibouti will provide a more comprehensive resupply point for the constant stream of warships traveling back and forth from China.

It will also be used for military co-operation, naval exercises and rescue missions, said the Xinhua report.

In any case, China's military advancement was tied in with ensuring its own particular security, it said.

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Multinational anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden have also given its navy and access to Mediterranean in 2008.

In a bid to win influence over the government and its people in recent years, both China and Saudi Arabia have poured vast amounts of money into the country to support infrastructure projects, education, and training programs. He also stressed that Beijing was committed to peaceful development, adding that China's defense policy remained to be defensive in nature.

"So we see a number of uncharacteristic moves by China in the last few years - first, dispatching a battalion of peacekeepers to a conflict in South Sudan".

Beijing officially describing the base as a logistics facility.

Djibouti is strategically important for a number of reasons.

An editorial in the Global Times even went on to say that India should withdraw its troops from the border or the Chinese People's Liberation Army will "kick" them out.

Edward Paice, director of the London-based Africa Research Institute, said a base in Djibouti makes a lot of sense for China, just as it does for Japan or the US.

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