China confirmed on Thursday that it is in talks with Djibouti about the building of logistical facilities to support Chinese peace-keeping and anti-piracy missions near Somalia and the Gulf of Aden.
Western media have been paying great attention to China’s move, saying that China is building its first overseas military base in Djibouti. They reported that China is avoiding using the word “military base,” and said China’s move will help expand its global influence.
The US and France have military bases in Djibouti, which serves as the outposts for their African military strategies that maximize their national interests.
China’s ties with all African countries are based on equality and mutual benefit, which do not need the drive of military deterrence. The Chinese navy’s patrols near the Gulf of Aden mainly target pirates. The navy also played a key role in evacuating Chinese citizens in recent cases of regional turmoil.
China has no intention of building a military base from which to launch a military strike at a certain Middle Eastern foe. It will not seek to become an empire by building military bases and project its military clout around the globe.
Logistical facilities may not appear absolutely different from military bases on the surface. But the motives behind sets them apart. The Chinese fleet needs a supply spot near the Gulf of Aden. The logistical facilities at Djibouti are a natural solution, instead of a prelude for China’s military strategy.
No Western countries or those around the region have raised official protests. Djibouti government expressed its welcome of China’s logistical project there. It sees the coming of China’s construction teams as a chance for local development.
There is no doubt that China’s influence in Africa will keep growing. Such influence mainly comes from economic cooperation and mutual political trust. After the logistical facilities are finished, the Chinese navy’s patrols near Africa will become more regular. This is a positive factor in Africa’s rise, not a military uncertainty for Africa’s future.
As long as the other countries welcome China’s merchant ships as part of its “Belt and Road” initiative, the world will gradually understand and support the fact that the Chinese navy also appears on major sea routes to protect the safety of ships from China and other countries.
As the biggest global trader, China sending out its navy to all oceans should not be a surprise. Actually there are still many places that the Chinese navy has yet to cover. Compared with the US whose military bases lie around the world, it is ridiculous to talk about China’s “ambition to become a new sea power.”