China Begins Military Colonization Of Africa With First Ever Overseas Army Base At Key Oil Chokepoint

Tyler Durden's picture

Back in March, when the Saudis were in the early stages of executing Operation Decisive Storm (the air campaign aimed at routing the Iran-backed rebels who had recently taken control of Yemen prompting President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to flee to Riyadh), the world began to get very nervous after the Houthis entered a military base at the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

Bab el-Mandeb is a key chokepoint for global crude and needless to say, just about the last thing Saudi Arabia (or the West for that matter) wanted to see was an Iranian proxy army taking control of one side of the corridor.  

At the time, Aden was a veritable warzone as a loose confederation of troops still loyal to Hadi battled to keep the Houthis from overrunning the historic port city. Just as hostilities reached a crescendo, unidentified troops showed up, disembarked, and rescued dozens of foreign nationals trapped in the escalating violence. As it turns out, those troops were Chinese. 

At the time, the rescue mission took virtually everyone off guard. China had inexplicably sailed a warship into the middle of a Mid-East proxy war, calmly strolled ashore, picked up some folks and left. 

While the bold display of naval power came as a surprise in April, it's now easy to put the maneuver in context. Since then, we've seen Beijing project its maritime capabilities on a number of occasions. The PLA's man-made islands in The South China Sea are the most notable example, but don't forget that China also sailed warships within 12 nautical miles of Alaska's coast and is also readying patrols by a nuclear submarine. In other words, China's impromtu appearance in Aden was part and parcel of a wider effort to make it clear that Beijing is set to build and maintain a true blue-water navy.

In that context, consider another map showing the Bab al-Mandeb:

On one side is Yemen, on the other, Djibouti. As we outlined back in May, China is negotiating a military base in the strategic port of Djibouti. Why Djibouti? So China can have a bird's eye view of everything that happens at the Bab el-Mandeb Strait: one of the top 5 oil choke points in the world (from the EIA):"An estimated 3.8 million bbl/d of crude oil and refined petroleum products flowed through this waterway in 2013 toward Europe, the United States, and Asia, an increase from 2.9 million bbl/d in 2009. Oil shipped through the strait decreased by almost one-third in 2009 because of the global economic downturn and the decline in northbound oil shipments to Europe. Northbound oil shipments increased through Bab el-Mandeb Strait in 2013, and more than half of the traffic, about 2.1 million bbl/d, moved northbound to the Suez Canal and SUMED Pipeline."

Six months later, it looks like those plans are on track. As WSJ reports on Friday, "China plans to build its first overseas naval installation in the East African nation of Djibouti, expanding the geographical reach of its armed forces as Beijing seeks to protect its growing economic and security interests around the globe."

True to form, China is attempting to downplay the effort, calling the installation a "support facility." "This facility will better ensure that the Chinese military can carry out responsibilities such as international peacekeeping, naval escorts in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, and humanitarian assistance,” a defense ministry spokesman said.

As WSJ goes on to note, "China has often cited its lack of foreign bases as evidence of peaceful intentions, but has been rapidly expanding its military capabilities in recent years to defend its regional territorial claims and project power far into the Pacific and Indian oceans and the Mediterranean."

The US - which also has a base in Djibouti - is adopting Washington's trademark condescending paternalism in discussions with the country's government. "We definitely have concerns and parameters that were communicated in terms of how we think they should manage Chinese or anyone else entering into what is already a fairly congested space."

Here's a bit of useful color from The New York Times:

China announced on Thursday that it would establish its first overseas military outpost and unveiled a sweeping plan to reorganize its military into a more agile force capable of projecting power abroad.


The outpost, in the East African nation of Djibouti, breaks with Beijing’s longstanding policy against emulating the United States in building military facilities abroad.


By establishing an outpost in the Horn of Africa — more than 4,800 miles away from Beijing and near some of the world’s most volatile regions — President Xi Jinping is leading the military beyond its historical focus on protecting the nation’s borders.


Together with the plan for new command systems to integrate and rebalance the armed forces, the two announcements highlight the breadth of change that Mr. Xi is pushing on the People’s Liberation Army, which for decades has served primarily as a lumbering guardian of Communist Party rule.


A presence in Djibouti would be China’s first overseas logistics facility to service its military vessels since the Communists took power, said David Finkelstein, director of China studies at CNA, an independent research institute in Arlington, Va.


“In the grand sweep of post-1949 Chinese history, this announcement is yet another indicator that Chinese policy is trying to catch up with national interests that have expanded faster than the capacity of the People’s Republic of China to service them,” Mr. Finkelstein said.


The new facility would enable the navy to live up to a strategy laid down this year by the Communist Party in a major defense document, known as a white paper, that outlined its ambitions to become a global maritime power.


China has invested heavily in Djibouti’s infrastructure, including hundreds of millions of dollars spent upgrading the country’s undersize port. It has also financed a railroad extending from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to Djibouti, a project that cost billions of dollars. The country has a population of about 900,000, many of whom live in poverty.


Strategically, Djibouti offers an excellent place from which to protect oil imports from the Middle East that traverse the Indian Ocean on their way to China, military experts say. From Djibouti, China gains greater access to the Arabian Peninsula.

Indeed they do, and that means not only will Beijing be able to keep a close eye on seaborne crude, they'll also be better prepared to intervene in Mid-East affairs should the situation call for it. 

As we discussed in "Here Comes China: Xi 'Vows Terror Fight' After ISIS Executes First Chinese Hostage," it seems unlikely that Beijing will be able to stay out of Mid-East affairs forever. Although one dead Chinese hostage likely won't be enough to make Xi commit to a full fledged military campaign in Syria, China did send several warships to the Mediterranean in 2013 as the standoff between Russia and the US hit a crescendo and Beijing is already engaged in a fight to curb radicalization among Uighurs in Xinjiang. As Michael Clarke, an associate professor at the Australian National University’s National Security College told Bloomberg earlier this week, "It appears that events are dragging China further into the Syrian crisis. On one level, Russian intervention and the Paris attacks have raised the stakes and made Beijing’s preferred option of a political resolution much less likely. The killing of a Chinese national will certainly inject a new variable into Beijing’s calculations about its position on the conflict."

Of course China isn't going to build a naval base in a week (although they did just build a bridge in 43 hours), so it's not as if the PLA will be sailing from Djibouti to Latakia next month, but the point is that we're seeing a strategic shift from Beijing in line with everything we've observed over the past nine months from the rescue operation in Aden to the construction of some 3,000 acres of new sovereign territory in the South Pacific.

Xi is branching out and China is projecting its military prowess. The new naval base has implications both for global energy markets and for the Mid-East balance of power. If Moscow and Tehran do indeed pull off a coup wherein Russia replaces the US as the Mid-East's superpower puppet master and Iran supplants Saudi Arabia as regional power broker, China will now have a base within shouting distance of its allies (recall that China generally votes with Russia on the Security Council with regard to Syria). 

We'll close with the following quote from Andrew Erickson, an expert on the Chinese military at the U.S. Naval War College: 

“China has for decades proudly proclaimed its lack of military facilities on foreign soil, so seeking long-term military access at a quasi-base level is a massive about-face… China is poised to cross the Rubicon.”

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Philo Beddoe's picture

They should prop one of these puppies up near Caracus. 

HowdyDoody's picture

Iran takes the Persian Gulf, Russia takes the eastern mediteranean and China takes the Red Sea. The US gets to keep Black Friday.


knukles's picture

I think we're way past "poised"
Note the sources of US oil;  US, Canada, Valenzuela and Nigeria
                           Will it really matter?  Calling EU, please pick up the red phone, EU.

               Home of the old French Camp Lemonnioer, now US and Third Demi-Brigade of FrFL

dlmaniac's picture

It actually is not much of milatary base. It's simply a logistic depot for their ships fighting Somali pirates.


I heard they were moving dredging equipment into port to build an island across the Red Sea, so they can claim offshore sovereignty and tell everyone else to fuck off, and go round Africa instead.

Chia-Pet's picture

Duh! Black Friday Matters.

Escrava Isaura's picture



China military colonization?


They are there to build democracy and a wall.


tonyw's picture

China has one base and is called a coloniser so what does that make the US with hundreds of bases, an occupier?


Escrava Isaura's picture



No! The real Empire.


roodeetoodee's picture

FFS Citizen!!!!

One looks in the direction the finger is pointing, NOT in the direction of the hand it is attached too.


sam i am's picture


The Western Sanctions  on Russia SITREP by the Serbian Girl

Gold gold gold

Max Steel's picture

So what ? US has base on socotra island controlled by exiled president of yemen ( puppy of S.Arabia )

A Lunatic's picture

We got our own backs you Imperialist Bitchez..... -Confucius-

Sizzurp's picture

Empire is the ultimate goal for any in the ruling class.  It's what they live for, moar power.

ILLILLILLI's picture

Read the Talmud...the endgame is fully described there.

samsara's picture

John Greer had a few posts about China whomping the US in Africa a couple years ago.

Good read( short little stories)

How It Could Happen, Part One: Hubris

How It Could Happen, Part Two: Nemesis

How It Could Happen, Part Three: To The Brink

How It Could Happen, Part Four: Crossing the Line

E.F. Mutton's picture

All these awful Manchurian Micro-Aggressions! Time to draw a Rainbow-colored line in the sand!

Consuelo's picture



Credit to uncle Jim Willie for bringing up the ja-booty issue a year ago as a key marker for China on the geopolitical scene.

JustObserving's picture

Many decades before China achieves 900 military bases in 130 countries

Ron Paul says U.S. has military personnel in 130 nations and 900 overseas bases
Renewable Life's picture

All funded with the privilege of having the sole global reserve currency on the planet!!!!
Damn it's a good thing that will never change or we might collapse into a heep of violence and debt drive hysteria.................

Oh wait??

Noplebian's picture
Noplebian (not verified) Nov 27, 2015 11:54 AM
WW3 – Turkey/ISIS/Russia – The Countdown Has Begun......

Okienomics's picture

As we all know, China is accumulating gold.  And after decades of the one-child policy, they have a shortage of eligible single women for the hundreds of millions of military-age males.  Perhaps they're just there for the gold and the girls.

KashNCarry's picture

I thought diamonds were a girls best friend...



and blow...



and furs...

Ms No's picture

Their first overseas naval installation?  Some big predators they are, that really puts things in perspective.  Yet they swarm the Chinese because they build a few artificial islands. Compare that to our stats... we actually have no damn idea how many bases we have. 

"For years, the late Chalmers Johnson, the man who literally wrote the book on the US military's empire of bases, The Sorrows of Empire, made the same point and backed it with the most detailed research on the globe-spanning American archipelago of bases that has ever been assembled. Several years ago, after mining the Pentagon's own publicly-available documents, Johnson wrote, "[T]he United States maintains 761 active military 'sites' in foreign countries. (That's the Defense Department's preferred term, rather than 'bases,' although bases are what they are.)"

Chalmers wasn't a good man, he was a CIA consultant and rallied behind much stupidity that the US was responsible for but if his numbers come in higher I would take it seriously in a ZBig kind of way.  How many bases are they claiming in Afghanistan?  Depending on which source you go by, there were anywhere between 0-400 bases there during the conflict, the US military reported 0 however.  Are all black sites counted?  It is not out of the realm of possibility that we have well over 1000 bases.                   

patrickhenry61's picture

Im sure that the CIA/NSA/State Dept./DOT/ Dept of Health/ Dept. of Agriculture/ Illuminati/ Freemason/ Men in Black Helicopters/ NATO/ Rotary Club/ YMCA/ 4H Club/ Knights of Columbus/ Coupon Clob and other local and state entities are tied in to this matrix also.

the grateful unemployed's picture

don't forget the slaughter of tribal Christian Africans at the hands of the Muslim militia Janjiweed in Sudan, sponsored by Chinese colonial investment in oil resources. you can recite chapter and verse around the globe since 2000 which culminates in WTO for China just two weeks after 9/11. let's just say Manchurian President and his hand picked successor. when you present them with the list of China's military accomplishments (Heritage foundation has it) they say simply that the US is not the worlds policeman. we are the worlds preeminent gangster, using force and corruption, but we no longer cling to notions of justice, democracy, human rights and such. that is so last century. gangster Obama (campaign kickback racketeering exploits would have gotten any of his former colleagues impeached) lists Taiwan as a client, which puts them on ISIS radar. it's an honor actually. check your map to see which country separates China and Afghanistan and then tell me where you think Bin Laden was hiding all those years. and who brought the towers down? was it extortion of just part of a bigger deal. why would we impower a communist nation with dubious human rights record, to what end? well enjoy your day of shopping and be sure to turn each item upside down to see the name of the American consumers debt slave overlord.

Wild Theories's picture

I'm sorry, but China had to evacuate their nationals from Africa a score of times due to Islamic millitants and local insurgents, not to mention the fact Islamic fundamentalists are no friends of the Chinese vis-a-vis China's Uighur problem.

There are Uighurs participating in IS and even the US had captured 5 Chinese Uighurs in Afganistan and had them locked up in Gitmo with other Al Queda captives, but then refused to hand them over to China when China wanted them.(feel free to look this up, this was in the news a few years back)


you are off your fucking rocker if you think the godless Chinese are friends with muslim nutjobs

Squid Viscous's picture Reggie chokepoints Obozo's chicken

falak pema's picture

From Pakistan's Gwadar port to Yemen in the face of a sign of Mongol Empire return.

1492 Columbus and now Asian pivot... how far will the reversal go?

nnnnnn's picture
nnnnnn (not verified) Nov 27, 2015 12:18 PM

i like the chinese camouflages 

Dr. Bonzo's picture

LMAO. China. I guess "soft power" is going by the wayside... too bad for China they don't have the logistics or the resources to mimic the methodology by which the US blows billions a year on "force projection" for at least 10 more years. It's a little bit more complicated than setting up some guard shacks on the beach....

Fireman's picture

Not too up on the facts. China has already bought and paid for Africa as well as USSA of course as the rest of the planet knows full well.

patrickhenry61's picture

I'm sure Rothschild gave them the green light to do it. It must've been discussed at the last Bildeberger meeting. Expect Cheney to pass by once it's completed to make sure all is in place to report back to Rothschild. I'm sure the CIA/NSA/State Dept./DOT/ Dept of Health/ Dept. of Agriculture/ Illuminati/ Freemason/ Men in Black Helicopters/ NATO/ Rotary Club/ YMCA/ 4H Club/ Knights of Columbus/ Coupon Clob and other local and state entities are tied in to this matrix.

Lorca's Novena's picture

OK something is totally strange here, I really thnk Dear Leader Obongo has written this piece, or maybe helped coordinate this plan. I defer to the article:

At the time, the rescue mission took virtually everyone off guard. China had inexplicably sailed a warship into the middle of a Mid-East proxy war, calmly strolled ashore, picked up some folks and left. 


On one side is Yemen, on the other, Djibouti.


Now after some close analyzation,  I believe Obola had a freudian slip and wanted to screw some folks up the Jabooty.


That is all.

Allen_H's picture

Go China, well done !

Glass Seagull's picture



Takes that workload off the US' plate. 


It's about time.

DrData02's picture

First step in the birth of an empire, death of another.

GRDguy's picture

Exactly. When the "drift of gold" was to the U.S. early on, we saw the result.  Now that the "drift of gold" is to China, we'll see the result.

SweetDoug's picture

If the world thinks the filthy Chinese are going to do a better job than the US, then let them have at it!

Good luck with that!

Let's hear it for "Truth, Justice and the Chinese Way!"



Buster Cherry's picture

If you plan on fitting may need to practice substituting 'R' for 'L' and vice versa in your speech.

I Write Code's picture

Good for them.

Much better than playing around in the Spratlys or dicking around in Alaska.

autofixer's picture

They should paint their ships white and sail them around the world.  

the grateful unemployed's picture

better be careful the Chinese might buy this website

Buster Cherry's picture

Them chinks better watch it....they may gets them a dose of Nigga Luv.....

HighPressure's picture

The Chinese are coming!!!! Oh the Rusians are already here!!! We need to build more aircraft carriers NOW!!!