China’s Indian Ocean push

Contingency and capability planning from China.

China’s first overseas military base in Djibouti likely to be a taste of things to come

On 26 November, China confirmed it was in talks with Djibouti to construct its first overseas military base. This represents a major symbolic and practical step in China’s emergence as a global military power.

According to a Chinese spokesman, the new military ‘support facilities’ will provide logistics and R&R to Chinese troops and naval vessels. It ‘will help China’s navy and army further participate in UN peacekeeping operations, carry out escort missions in the waters near Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, and provide humanitarian assistance.’

China has been looking for a long term solution to its logistical needs in the Indian Ocean for several years. Since 2008, the Chinese navy has made almost continuous deployments to the Gulf of Aden in support of anti-piracy operations. This has involved 21 task forces totaling 60 naval vessels, which has allowed a fair proportion of the PLA Navy to familiarise itself with ‘far seas operations’ in general and the Indian Ocean in particular.

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