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Chinese base in Djibouti not military expansion

By Sun Wenyu (People's Daily Online)    16:50, July 13, 2017
Chinese base in Djibouti not military expansion

China’s establishment of its first military base in Djibouti has triggered wide concerns amongst some Western countries that China is indeed conducting military expansion and building strategic layout in the Indian Ocean. The base is meant to ensure supplies rather than a “threat” posed by China as alleged, refuted a commentary.

The commentary was published on the official website of People’s Daily overseas edition.

China’s overseas security is based on the country’s peace and friendship-oriented diplomacy rather than military operations; and the base is not military expansion, the article pointed out.

The article said that China has always adhered to the principle of peaceful coexistence. Though some adjustments have been made, the country has never deviated from the principle.

However, the paper said, substantial trade and economic exchanges have resulted in unprecedented enriched Chinese interests overseas. Therefore, it is reasonable for the country to protect them.

About 3.8 million barrels of crude oil are transported through the waters of Mandab Strait and Gulf of Aden each day, accounting for nearly 20 percent of global oil trade volume. And half of China’s oil imports go through the Gulf of Aden. This means that China has every reason to dispatch its fleets to the Gulf of Aden.

Previously, oil, living material and medical supplies for the fleets were brought in by ship after being purchased in neighbouring countries. Such a method was not only expensive, but also inefficient, thus setting up a military base to support Chinese warships operating in the region became necessary, it explained.

The 40-acre base is only able to accommodate a limited number of troops and facilities. Guaranteeing their logistics is the most central and realistic objective.

The article noted that the largest U.S. military base, Camp Lemonnier, is located just 10 kilometers from the Chinese base. Equipped with a regional anti-terrorism command center, the base has about 4,000 enlisted men, including a special force.

In addition, Camp Lemonnier has a drone apron that enables unmanned aircraft to conduct missions in adjacent areas. Multiple accidents have occurred due to the camp’s frequent missions, which even affected the operation of Djibouti’s civil aviation.

Besides the U.S., many countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and even Japan, have all established military bases in Djibouti.

The commentary believes that the reason for Western countries’ undue focus on China’s small military camp is indeed their conventional thinking that China would also try to control the world with its expanding military power just like they did before.

As a matter of fact, the article noted, those who fan up the “China threat” theory should be aware that even the U.S., which has established more than 100 military camps in over 40 countries, has still not made itself secure enough.

As a result, China will seldom adopt military solutions to its own development, and its overseas security will mainly rely on its peace and friendship-oriented diplomacy. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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