China Moves to Ease Fears Over Naval Base in Djibouti

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The Chinese government has moved to ease fears over its first overseas naval base, established in Djibouti, following international concern.

A typically secretive Bejing has taken the unusual step of defending its foreign policy, insisting it has no intentions of building a military hegemony in a similar vein to the US. Instead, the country explains the move as an initiative to open trade routes between China and the rest of the world.

 

‘A supply facility, pure and simple’

One Chinese diplomat, speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, revealed the idea of a Djibouti naval base came after China’s navy evacuated foreigners from Yemen last year.

After giving most of its supplies to those evacuated in the operation, the ship was forced to source fresh supplies elsewhere. The US, on the other hand, has bases stationed around the world where it can restock on vital supplies. This, the source claims, was the original basis of the Djibouti concept.

“It’s a supply facility pure and simple,” the source said, according to Reuters.

 

International concern

The Djibouti base has received a mixed reception from international powers. Unsurprisingly, the US is keeping a keen eye on developments in Djibouti and China’s naval expansion in general.

India has been the most vocal about its concerns over the China-Djibouti cooperation, however. India and China have had their share of bilateral tensions in recent decades, including border disputes and issues with each other’s military expansion.

China has already established a number military alliances and assets surrounding India, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Geographically, a Djibouti base the west effectively completes a ring around India, forcing the central Asian country to rethink its naval strategy.

“Djibouti also 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,” and Indian military official told Reuters.

 

Featured image:

By Dong Fang – http://www.voachinese.com/content/ccp-congress-reps-proposals-measure-20121111/1543623.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22649337