China has just begun sending a very dangerous weapon — its troops — to a base in the East African nation of Djibouti just miles from where a U.S. special operations base is located.
According to American Military News, the base in Djibouti will be China’s first such outpost overseas. Beijing has billed it as a “logistics facility” to fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden as well as a major outpost to help launch African peacekeeping efforts. The base, which began construction in early 2016, isn’t operational yet. However, a batch of personnel departed from a naval base in Zhanjiang on Tuesday.
“The base will ensure China’s performance of missions, such as escorting, peacekeeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia,” a report from Beijing’s state-run Xinhua news agency read, according to the South China Morning Post.
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“The base will also be conducive to overseas tasks including military cooperation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of international strategic seaways.”
Djibouti, a small nation in the Horn of Africa, sits right on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. That’s the entrance and exit to the Red Sea — and, by extension, the Suez Canal — through the Gulf of Aden. That means the country of 800,000 is in a critical place for world shipping.
China insists that the base is “primarily used for the better fulfillment of international obligations,” and that its “defense policy is defensive in nature. This has not changed.” However, Asian countries have been worried about the base, with Indian officials saying that it was part of China’s “string of pearls” — military facilities in strategic locations “ringing” the nation of India, according to Business Insider.
“If I were Indian I would be very worried about what China is up to in Djibouti,” one Western diplomat is quoted as saying. And it’s not just India. America has very good reason to be worried about the base, as well… [CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE]