The Significance of China’s Military Activity in Djibouti

“China is expanding its military ties across Africa, and even constructing a naval base in Djibouti. The shift began towards the end of the Hu Jintao era (2002–2012), when Beijing declared the protection of Chinese overseas interests to be a foreign policy priority, and, based on this, announced a China–Africa Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Security.

Its direct involvement in African security has been taken to a new level under President Xi  Jinping. Cooperation with Africa on peace and security is now an explicit part of Beijing’s foreign policy”.

Into Africa: China’s Global Security Shift – European Council On Foreign Relations

China’s military presence in Africa

Despite years of claiming it is different from  the US and European neo-colonial powers in Africa, China has recently changed its laws to allow its military and police to intervene overseas. Currently China is the 8th in global UN peace keeping operations and it has over 3,000 troops in Africa.

US Admirals argue that a the key advantage they have over the Chinese is that the Americans have been engaged in active combat on land and sea for the last thirty years, some commentators believe that China is seeking to address this issue by ramping up its military activity in and around Africa in particular. Another argument for its increased presence is as a response to the increased US military presence in Africa and its Africa Command, plus China’s desire to protect its growing interests in Africa be it the 1 million plus personnel, economic and strategic interests such the key Red Sea / Indian Ocean route.

Within this context China’s decision to establish a military base in Djibouti is a key step change, no sooner than this decision has been widely popularised China has started hinting at additional bases in Africa. So this is one trajectory of China’s contribution to the increasing militarisation of the African continent; another is China’s increasing military supplies to African countries.

China used to operate via UN but with the establishment of it first military base this will no longer be the case, it is thought that from Djibouti China’s fighter jets which have a range of 2500KM will not only be able to provide cover for its interests in many Africa countries but will also provide key cover for its Red Sea transportation routes plus its interest in the Gulf region.  So not only does this create tensions with other imperialist powers already based in Djibouti most particularly with the US but it also threatens to create tensions between a Chinese base in an African country and potential hostiles from the wider region so if a regional conflict emerges this small African state could become a key strategic battle ground.

China’s naval presence
In general the increasing militarization of the African continent by the big powers creates dangers for the African people and in no way serves their interests. On the one hand it helps to facilitate the continuing plunder of the continent and its peoples whilst increasing inter imperialist military rivalry and the dangers of war.
Source: Stop foreign interference in Africa

Leave a Reply