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China Ramps up Military Base, Port Construction in Djibouti

By | Apr 19, 2017 05:17 AM EDT
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Ministerial Meeting Of The Forum On China-Africa Cooperation Held In China

Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh (3rd R) holds talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao following a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People July 18, 2012 in Beijing, China. (Photo : Getty Images)

China continues to invest in Djibouti in Africa, fast pacing its construction of a military base and a $590 million port near the city.

The country confirmed that the base was being constructed in 2015. The initiative will benefit not only the United Nations peacekeeping missions and counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden but also China's economic interests.

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The base, which is expected to finish this summer, is located near Camp Lemonnier, a special operation outpost. Both Lemonnier and Djibouti strategically lie in the Horn of Africa, sitting on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which is the gateway to Egypt's Suez Canal, one of the world's busiest shipping corridor. China is connecting Djibouti on the Horn of Africa to Chinese President Xi Jinping's "Belt and Road" program.

So far, the Export-Import Bank of China has invested on at least eight projects. These include a $322 million water pipeline reaching to Ethiopia, a $490 million Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway, and a $450 million airport in Bicidley.

According to the country's 2015 defense white paper, its first military base in the East African city is part of Beijing's plan to continue with its "maritime military struggle" and overcome the idea that "land overweighs sea." However, the construction has raised red flags for the US military, which also has an outpost close by.  

Daily Caller pointed that China's statements on the alleged base are conflicting at times. China has earlier denied that the facility is a military base and called it as a "depot" or "logistical support facility" instead. But they also claimed that it will help conduct military missions and protect its "lawful" interests" in the area, with Foreign Minister saying that it was "reasonable and in line with international practice."


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