14 August 2017
China is in the process of setting up its first overseas military base at Djibouti in northeast Africa. The base will be large enough to house a few thousand troops, berth six ships and pre-position supplies. This development is particularly disturbing for India and the United States and will likely spur naval competition in the region.
In establishing a base in Djibouti, China will join France, Italy, Japan and the United States in having military bases there. The United States will understandably be wary of its new neighbour in Djibouti. Nowhere else in the world will U.S. and Chinese operational military forces be located so close to each other. The United States will see the Chinese base as a threat to the security of the highly sensitive surveillance and intelligence collection operations it launches from Camp Lemonnier. China’s presence in Djibouti will also have the consequence of bringing the United States and India closer together: united in their efforts to counter China’s increased regional presence.
The multinational military activities concentrated within the relatively limited geographical confines of Djibouti could provide an environment for new forms of maritime and military cooperation. But it’s more likely that Djibouti will become a hot-bed of intrigue, espionage and counter-espionage as the separate military forces closely watch each other’s activities.
… Sam Bateman is Adviser to the Maritime Security Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 17/08/2017