China sends troops to open first overseas military base in Djibouti

Jul 13, 2017 11:28 IST

Ships carrying personnel for China's first overseas military base in Djibouti have set sail to begin setting up the facility.

On the other hand, Djibouti's position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean instilled worry in India as China builds on its military alliances with countries that encircle India, notably Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

Djibouti in the Horn of Africa will be China's first overseas naval base, though Beijing officially describes it as a logistics facility. The dragon stated that the base will be used to resupply navy ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular.

However, China did not specify how many troops or ships it would be sending to Djibouti or when maneuvers would start.

China sends troops to open first overseas military base in Djibouti

Key highlights

China’s military base in Djibouti is located in close proximity to Camp Lemonnier, which is operated by the United States Navy.

The facility, built around the Djiboutian town of Obock, is expected to significantly increase China's power projection capabilities in the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean. The base is constructed adjacent to the Port of Doraleh, which was financed primarily by China.

China negotiated with President Ismail Omar Guelleh in approximately 2015 to create a strategic base in Djibouti. Negotiations were concluded in January 2016, with China and Djibouti having "reached consensus" on the construction of naval facilities.

Construction of the base began in 2016.

On 11 July 2017, the People’s Liberation Army Navy dispatched ships from South Sea Fleet Zhanjiang to the base, ceremonially opening it.

Why so many military bases in Djibouti?

Djibouti is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east.

The countey lies on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a gateway to the Suez Canal, which is one of the world's busiest shipping routes.

The country’s status as a model of stability in an otherwise volatile region is one of its greatest assets.

Djibouti's proximity to restive regions in Africa and the Middle East makes the country significant for the location of bases for the military superpowers.

Crisis like, Somalia that has been a breeding ground of unrest for years, with sea pirates and al-Shabab militants posing a serious threat to the region, and crisis struck Yemen, have warranted international responses and the need for military bases nearby.

The Horn of Africa nation hosts Camp Lemonnier, the largest American permanent military base in Africa, which is home to more than 4000 personnel.

In fact, France and Japan have also launched operations from the Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport.

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