China is going to build a base in Djibouti, so that will be their first military location in Africa. With the establishment of a base in Djibouti, China joins the global contest for maritime and commercial supremacy, reports Al Jazeera.
China has long had an economic foothold in Africa, but the base would be an expansion of its military prowess beyond the Asia-Pacific region
The agreement opens the door to the creation of a permanent Chinese military presence on the African continent - at a key geopolitical address bordering the Bab el-Mandeb Strait guarding the approaches to Suez along the Arabian peninsula
and the interior of East Africa.
"In accordance with relevant UN resolutions," explained Hong Lei, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry: "China has deployed more than 60 vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast in 21 [anti-piracy] escort missions since 2008. In the process of escorting, we encountered real difficulties in replenishing soldiers and resupplying fuel and food, and found it really necessary to have nearby and efficient logistical support."
Notwithstanding such benign explanations, China's establishment of a permanent facility in this region marks a critical step in the maritime expansion and strategic creation of a Chinese "blue water" navy capable of operating globally.
"[China is] going to build a base in Djibouti, so that will be their first military location in Africa," explained David Rodriguez, the commander of US Africa Command
Djibouti is a small country in East Africa, across from Yemen and on the Gulf of Aden, with a population of just under 830,000. The vast majority of the population is Muslim; about 6 percent are Christian.
The new Chinese base would be a logistics hub, Rodriguez said, the Hill reported. It would also allow China to improve its ability to gather intelligence in the region and beyond, such as parts of the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula as and Central Africa.