China Deploys Troops To Its First Overseas Military Base In Africa

Tyler Durden's picture

China has deployed troops to the country's first overseas military base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, as China's rapidly modernizing military extends its global reach. Beijing says the "support base" will be used for logistical purposes, such as resupplying ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia however concerns are growing about China's rising geopolitical influence especially at such a key strategic location.

Djibouti, which is about the size of Wales, is situated at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal. The tiny, barren nation sandwiched between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia also hosts U.S., Japanese and French bases. As we reported last year, China raised many eyebrows when it began construction of the Djibouti logistical base last year. Located nearly 5,000 miles from the Chinese capital, Djibouti is located at a highly strategic, if dangerous part of the world. The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is one of the planet’s most important oil chokepoints and, like the Suez Canal, there are numerous nations that have an interest in keeping it open and secure. Additionally, Djibouti’s location on the horn of Africa makes it an attractive base from which to conduct "anti-terror", or any other military operations in both Africa and the Mid-East.

As Xinhua reports, ships carrying Chinese military personnel from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) departed Zhanjiang in southern China's Guangdong Province on Tuesday to set up a support base in Djibouti, without providing details on the number of troops that were deployed. Referring to the facility as a “support base,” the Chinese media said its purpose will be to ensure China's successful performance of missions in the region.

While it did not say when operations would begin at the base, Xinhua stated that the base will also assist with overseas tasks including military cooperation and joint exercises, as well as jointly maintaining security of international strategic waterways. The decision to build the base in Djibouti came after “friendly negotiations” between the two nations, according to the PLA Navy.

PLA soldiers salute from a ship sailing off from a military port in Zhanjiang, July 11

Furthermore, in front-page commentary, the People's Liberation Army Daily said the facility will increase China's ability to ensure global peace, particularly because it has many UN peacekeepers in Africa and is very involved in anti-piracy patrols. It also noted that China will under no circumstances be seeking military expansionism or become involve in arms races, although as discussed below many are skeptical.

An editorial in the state-run Global Times "patriotic" tabloid, referred to the facility as a proper base, rather than a logistics facility:

“Certainly this is the People's Liberation Army's first overseas base and we will base troops there. It's not a commercial resupply point. It makes sense there is attention on this from foreign public opinion,” the editorial states. It went on to state that China's military development is about protecting its own security, not about “seeking to control the world.”

While there has been persistent speculation that China would build other such bases, in Pakistan for example, but the government has dismissed this.

In the past, China has pitched its involvement in the country’s development as an extension of Xi’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which is essentially an expansive initiative that i) gives China an excuse to take a stake in any country that’s willing to accept FDI, and ii) creates a kind of pressure valve for Beijing’s excess industrial capacity.

"China is explaining it as part of the 'one road, one belt' strategy, to help link Ethiopia to the sea," one Western diplomat who has been briefed by Chinese officials on the Djibouti base, told Reuters last year. "China does not want to be seen as a threat.”

Meanwhile, as Reuters adds, Djibouti's position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fuelled worry in India that it would become another of China's "string of pearls" of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. As Reuters cited a Western official last year, "If I were Indian I would be very worried about what China is up to in Djibouti. Djibouti enables China to base its long-range naval air assets there and these are capable of maintaining surveillance over the Arabian Sea as well as India's island territories off the Western coast."

The deployment comes after a Pentagon report in May claimed that China was eyeing military presence overseas and modernization of its military to “deter or defeat adversary power projection and counter third-party intervention – including by the United States – during a crisis or conflict.” Beijing responded by saying it is “firmly opposed” to the report, which is said included “irresponsible remarks” and “disregarded facts.”

Djibouti is home to some 887,000 people and is favored for its strategic location at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, on the route to the Suez Canal. The nation is also home to US, French and Japanese military compounds.

Japanese government sources said last year that Tokyo also plans to expand its base in Djibouti, to counter what it sees as growing Chinese influence in the region. “China is putting money into new infrastructure and raising its presence in Djibouti, and it is necessary for Japan gain more influence,” one source told Reuters at the time.

* * *

A recent article on Djibouti from Bloomberg reveals just how extensive the Chinese presence is in the small country:

After Sept. 11, the U.S. military rushed to establish its first base dedicated to counterterrorism, and Djibouti was about the only country in the neighborhood that wasn’t on fire. Sitting beside the narrow Bab el-Mandeb strait—a gateway to the Suez Canal at the mouth of the Red Sea, and one of the most trafficked shipping lanes in the world—it provided easy access to hot spots in both Africa and the Middle East. A few years later, when Somali pirates started threatening the global shipping industry, the militaries of Germany, Italy, and Spain joined France, which has maintained a base since colonial times, by moving troops to Djibouti. Japan arrived in 2011, opening its first military base on foreign soil since World War II.




They eventually come to La Chaumière to gossip, to eavesdrop, to see who’s new in town. Wang is a central branch on the local grapevine. When I ask people here how Djibouti has managed to avoid the turmoil that has plagued the other countries in the region, a stock answer comes back to me from nearly everyone, both local and foreign. “No country is completely safe, but everybody knows everyone here, and they all talk,” Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, the country’s minister of finance, tells me. “Every time a new camera comes into the country, for example, we know whose it is.” The grapevine, in other words, doubles as a safety net. 


U.S. soldiers can’t go anywhere without being reminded of the People’s Republic. On the drive to the clinic, I’d noticed lengths of black tubing lying by the side of the road. “That’s a new water pipeline to Ethiopia,” the driver said, “built by the Chinese.” Nobody knows how the new Chinese base will change things, mostly because its scale isn’t yet known, but traces of anticipatory tension are palpable. Several diplomatic officials and members of U.S. Congress have publicly fretted over China’s growing influence in Djibouti, speculating that it might signal an era of increased Chinese military engagement around the world. Kelly, the U.S. ambassador, told me that “snooping,” electronic or otherwise, will be an obvious concern around Camp Lemonnier.


The Americans still have the largest foreign military presence in the country, but China’s intensifying interest in Djibouti is shifting the balance of influence. That brings us back to community relations. At the tiny clinic in Arta, about 50 people wait outside, the men dressed in button-down shirts and macawiis—a loose garment that wraps around the legs like a sarong—and the women draped in colorful headscarves and light shawls. Inside, an Army dentist straps a headlamp to his forehead and stares into the mouth of an unemployed, 29-year-old mother of four. He jabs her gum with a syringe and pries out a tooth.





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jughead's picture

let the fucking chinese takeover our "policeman of the world and its trade routes" duty...and foot the fucking bill too.  

WTFRLY's picture

Just in time for JOOMANJI... Fuckin duhhhh

NotApplicable's picture

Was not aware that Japan's defense now includes foreign expansion.

Lordflin's picture

Having witnessed how well empire building has performed for us, China is eager to follow in our footsteps...

Or to put it another way... pride goeth before a fall..

Déjà view's picture

What is AFRICOM going to do about they party hardy at Kelly Barracks Stuttgart, Germany...

silverer's picture

If the musloids don't get there first.

yogibear's picture

When will China take the lead and abondon the US Federal Reserve?

And cause massive dollar dumping

The only way that China can defeat the US is economically.

China has all the key and strategic technologies now.

FixItAgainTony's picture

At the perfect moment, no sooner, no later.

stacking12321's picture

what's the rush?

china is building out infrastructure like the new silk road, accumulating resources, building strategic partnerships, and importing lots of GOLD

they are winning, no reason to hurry to upset the apple cart, they are fine with how things are going, they're in it for the long game.

Xena fobe's picture

You think Chinese hegemony would look like American hegemony because you aren't already living in enemy occupied territory. 

Enjoy your new life as a coolie working 18 hours a day for a bowl of rice.  Better leave your chicken coup you share with 40 other coolies early, you have a 10 mile bicycle commute to get to work.

Sudden Debt's picture

The beginning of the end for America.

Can you imagine what they'll do when America is officially a 3rd world country and China decideds to "liberate them US style"?


silverer's picture

I don't know if you're a US citizen, if so keep in mind that just a little more than half the people that pass you on the road voted for that over the last three administrations. The dumb bastards.

stacking12321's picture

yes, truly, people who vote are dumb bastards.

don't vote, it just encourages them.

Stormtrooper's picture

"A gun behind every blade of grass"

Lumberjack's picture

Chinese Navy holds live-fire training in Mediterranean en route to joint drills with Russia

Xena fobe's picture

Africans will over run their base and slaughter them all.  Just need to give it a couple months.

Schmuck Raker's picture

"U.S. soldiers can’t go anywhere without being reminded of the People’s Republic."

TOUGH SHIT! I can't go anywhere in the US without being reminded of the US Military!!

silverer's picture

The US was once "The People's Republic".

Xena fobe's picture

I csn't go anywhere in LA without being reminded of the People's Republic.

Fartboxbuffet's picture

Chicken fryed wice 

YourAverageJoe's picture

Chickety China, the Chinese Chicken.

Eat a drumstick and your brain starts clickin'

silverer's picture

Hmm. Chinese troops, eh? How many? 18,000,000? lol

Juliette's picture

Good for China. Fuck the USA.


WTFUD's picture

Don't ya just love a party when it's got an atmosphere?

China 1

US/Neocons 900 (according to Ron Paul ).

bluskyes's picture

not about “seeking to control the world.”... yet.

Gallumhrasha's picture

The chinese have always been about peace, 4000 years of history can back that up. Lets look at US's history humm?

Xena fobe's picture

Meaningless platitudes.  China is setting up puppet feifdoms.  Paying off corrupt leaders for rights to exploit resources and land leads to war. 

bluskyes's picture

genghis khan wasn't chinese?

Gallumhrasha's picture

uhh no genghis khan wasnt chinese. He was mongolian and he attacked china

MaxThrust's picture

The people who are having concerns are the MIC. They detect a declining role for the US military and lower arms sales.

WTFUD's picture

Free Market, healthy competition and all that, lol. Don't you just love those satanic parasitical 5 Eye scummy fucks.

Xena fobe's picture

No native population wants foreigners on their land exploiting them.  The Americans are surely not welcome either.  But individual Americans do have some humanity.

coast1's picture

china also says they have 20k spies in the U.S.

YourAverageJoe's picture

I think our receptionist is one of them.

uhland62's picture

Gives the 17 intelligence services something to do and in budget. 

WTFUD's picture

Yeah fuck you China, all the resources and rights of way belong to the Fed Res, Troika and 5 Eye Associates.

No fuck you Uncle Scam , were opening a new book and running the numbers.

pizdowitz's picture

These idiots apparently do not understand the logistics required to support a "foreign" base - hookers for one.

They will out of there in a hurry, once the "pirates" cut off their water.

Lurk Skywatcher's picture

The only idiot here is the one that doesn't realize China is the one building all the infrastructure that supplies those logistics, and fast gaining a reputation in those nations as a benefactor, rather than an oppressor - which is exactly how the US and other colonial nations are viewed by the locals.

The US doesn't build shit... well, to be exact, the US only builds shit. Shit with a platinum pricetag, all to support well connected corporations and politicians at home.

China plays a different game - they GAVE some Pacific Nations modern navy fleets. Payment comes later, at China's leisure.

gregga777's picture

Oh, yeah, sure.  China is an altruistic force for good in the world.  Ha, ha, ha!  ROTFLMAO.

Xena fobe's picture

This guy is testing the "repeat a lie often enough and people believe it" theory.

He forgets Chinese have been in Africa for a while and info spreads fast.

pizdowitz's picture

Chinese ventured into Africa because they can recognize opportunity when it presents itself.

In due time Chinese will be irrelevant in Africa, and all other "foreign" places, because

1) they are penny-wise, and dollar-stupid

2) they do not understand long-term commitment

Lurk Skywatcher's picture

Riight. One of the oldest continous civilisations in the world has no idea about long term commitment.

Slap yourself.


Lurk Skywatcher's picture

Nobody said they were, you just took it that way because I critisized American methods as the obvious strongarm tactics they are.

Ever notice that nobody actually asks for America's help? "Help" is thrust upon them whether they like it or not. No one actually runs out into the street to greet American troops except in movies, staged MSM propaganda, or in very quickly regretted ignorance. Or for NATO or the UN troops either.

People know upfront what they are going to get from American "liberation" and "nation building", and have done for nigh on 70 years.

China, on the other hand, are only beginning their own attempt at foreign interference, and are taking a different route. Infrastructure, favours, gifts - but with strings attached. The strings might not be visible just yet, but they sure as hell are there... all will be revealed at China's leisure, for China's needs.

I would say that China will turn out to be a far worse benefactor than America is an oppressor precisely because the natives will be fooled into thinking it is altruistic good deeds that China is throwing around, but in the meantime China will enjoy local support that America could never fathom with its "barrel of a gun" diplomacy.

uhland62's picture

Oh no, not altruistic, just about business.

They like to sell things and in order to do that it's necessary to keep people alive and with a few coins. The US only build stuff for their own military. This is quite logical because it's the government who builds barracks. All other things need to be built by private enterprise but they do not do infrastructure, not in the US, not elsewhere because it takes a while to yield, if ever. Some infrastructure only improves the lives of people, but who wants to spend money on that. China still has a significant government sector; so they can build infrastructure.

It's just competition - I thought the US were the champions of competition. 

gregga777's picture

The United States should diabolically and vehemently protest China's expanding presence in Africa.  Hopefully, then the Chinese will take steps to greatly expand their presence there and waste even more resources.  The United States would then withdraw most of our forces and bases and leave the African tar baby to China.  It's a plan that even Dr. Ee-ville would love.  /sarc?



Xena fobe's picture

Something tells me the problem will be resolved.  Might be resolved by WWIII though but whatever.