China Officially Opens First Overseas Military Base in Djibouti

China Officially Opens First Overseas Military Base in Djibouti

By IndraStra Global Editorial Team

Image Attribute: A Chinese national flag ceremony and a military parade were held in the barracks / Source: China Defense Blog

Image Attribute: A Chinese national flag ceremony and a military parade were held in the barracks / Source: China Defense Blog

On August 1, 2017, China formally opened its first overseas military base, with a flag raising ceremony in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, the same day as the People's Liberation Army marks its 90th birthday, state media said.

A ceremony marking the entry of troops into the Chinese People's Liberation Army's (PLA) support base in Djibouti was held on Tuesday in the base's barracks.

China began construction of a logistics base in Djibouti last year after its announcement of its plan on November 26, 2015, to build the first overseas naval military base in the East African nation. At that time, the announcement was considered as an important step forward in China’s strategic military development.

Image Attribute: A Chinese national flag ceremony and a military parade were held in the barracks / Source: China Defense Blog

Image Attribute: A Chinese national flag ceremony and a military parade were held in the barracks / Source: China Defense Blog

More than 300 people attended Tuesday's ceremony, including deputy Chinese naval commander Tian Zhong and Djibouti's defense minister, according to state media.The newly inaugurated base will fulfill China's international obligations regarding humanitarianism aid and escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia.

The PLA support base in Djibouti was established on July 11, 2017, based on a decision by both Djibouti and China and will be conducive to latter fulfilling its international commitments which also going to play a pivotal role in China's Belt and Road Initiative — a trade and infrastructure network spanning Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa — involves a $900 billion extensive infrastructure investments spread across some of the most unstable places on earth as it seeks to gain access to natural resources and new markets.

This recent development in Djibouti has started ringing warning bells in India. New Delhi is concerned that China is encircling India with a string of military and non-military alliances, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. Recently, China has acquired 85 per cent stake in Hambantota port for US$1.12 billion through it's to state-owned China Merchants Port Holdings. Though, under the new deal, the Sri Lankan government has sought to limit China's role to running the commercial operations at the port while it has oversight over the broader security aspects with respect to the facility. 

Image Attribute: A Chinese national flag ceremony and a military parade were held in the barracks / Source: China Defense Blog

According to Amrita Jash, the editor-in-chief at IndraStra Global - Unlike the United States and India, China witnessed a ‘pariah’ status in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) given its lack of geographical proximity as well as a logistical support base. Facing this strategic disadvantage, it had become imperative for China to safeguard its economic and security interests in the Indian Ocean. And in doing so, China needs to strengthen its military presence and activities in the Indian Ocean- by building bases in the IOR and acting as an offshore balancer.


Till now, China had a limited role in IOR and with the opening of this new facility, it is going to provide an impetus in terms of a greater and stronger military presence in the region. Hence, China’s actions in Djibouti will draw the map of its great power ambitions in the Indian Ocean. Wherein, the scope of China’s activities in IOR will only amplify with time both literally and figuratively.
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