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People's Daily Online>>China Military

Navy looks at offer from Seychelles

By Li Xiaokun and Li Lianxing (China Daily)

08:11, December 13, 2011

BEIJING - The navy is considering taking on supplies in the Seychelles while conducting escort missions to tackle piracy.

Military experts stressed that the move did not equate to establishing military bases.

"According to escort needs and the needs of other long-range missions, China will consider seeking supply facilities at appropriate harbors in the Seychelles or other countries," the Ministry of Defense said in a statement on its website on Monday.

The statement was in response to a recent report that the Seychelles invited China to establish a military base in the Indian Ocean archipelago to crack down on piracy during a visit by Defense Minister Liang Guanglie, the first by a Chinese defense minister, earlier this month.

The Press Trust of India news agency later interpreted this as Beijing reneging on its promise not to build military bases abroad.

"In a move that may cause unease in India," the agency said, "China on Monday announced that it will set up its first military base abroad". The Seychelles, about 1,500 kilometers off the African coast and about 3,000 km southwest of India, is the smallest African state in terms of population.

Some sections of the US media expressed concern that such a "military base" in the Seychelles will lead to Chinese influence surpassing that of the US in Africa.

Li Jie, a professor at the Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told China Daily "as China will not send troops to protect the supply stop in the Seychelles, by no means can it be called an overseas military base".

Beijing has repeatedly confirmed that its policy of not stationing troops abroad will not be altered. It stands alone among the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in not having overseas bases.

Due to anti-piracy missions off the coast of Somalia, it is only natural for Beijing to ensure naval supplies, Li said.

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