Update: Apr 25, 2021 6:06 AM STI
Washington [US], April 24 (ANI): As China continues to increase its military presence across the African continent, Washington said its forces in Africa were monitoring China, adding that it was moving closer to establishing a network military and naval bases across the continent, posing a “significant threat”.
“We know the Chinese want a network of bases around the world,” US Africa Command Chief Gen. Stephen Townsend told lawmakers on Thursday, adding: “My concern is the greatest along the Atlantic coast of Africa. “
According to Voice of America, China established its first military base on the east coast of Africa, in Doraleh, Djibouti, in 2017, sparking concern from US military officials who described the Chinese facility as being “right in front of it. our gates “from the US base of the camp. Lemonnier.
Townsend said that since then Beijing has worked on expanding its footprint in Djibouti as it considers other locations.
“What they have done over the past two years is the completion of a very large capable naval dock that adjoins their base,” Townsend said of the Chinese expansion at Doraleh. “This pier has the capacity to dock their larger ships, including the Chinese aircraft carrier as well as nuclear submarines.”
Voice of America further reported that, according to US officials, China is seeking to establish a presence further south along the coast of East Africa, in Tanzania, and has an even more ambitious plan for the Atlantic coast of Africa.
“This is China’s biggest threat,” Townsend told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying Beijing wanted “something more than a place where they can stop over and buy gas. and groceries “.
“I’m talking about a port where they can rearm with ammunition and repair warships,” he said. “They are working aggressively to achieve this.”
He also revealed how a recently completed jetty at the Chinese naval base in Djibouti, near the entrance to the Red Sea, is large enough to accommodate an aircraft carrier.
The People’s Liberation Army is expanding its existing naval facility next to a Chinese-owned deep-water commercial port and is also seeking other military base options elsewhere on the mainland.
“Their first overseas military base, the only one, is in Africa, and they have just expanded it by adding a major jetty that may even support their aircraft carriers in the future. On the continent, they are looking for more. other basic opportunities, “Townsend said as quoted by United States Naval Institute (USNI) News.
The base, which opened in 2017, was developed to support the Chinese anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden, but has expanded to include capabilities to serve as a center of logistical refueling for Chinese navy ships, analysts said. .
In October last year, commercial satellite images showed the construction of a jetty system at the military base in Djibouti.
The relationship between Djibouti and China is a case study of how Beijing is using its global infrastructure investment strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative, to increase its economic influence and strengthen its position as a leading investor in Africa.
The current scenario, however, illustrates the limits of China’s vast investment and credit scheme as it dries up, France24 reported.
By accepting large inflows of Chinese capital and loans, Djibouti now finds itself in a situation of economic dependence such that it “risks threatening its autonomy”, writes Sonia Le Gouriellec, a specialist in the Horn of Africa at the Catholic University of Lille, in the Revue de Défense Nationale (Revue de la Défense Nationale).
Under the administration of former President Donald Trump, ties between the two countries had deteriorated on issues such as human rights abuses in Xinjiang, the encroachment on Hong Kong’s special status, accusations of unfair trade practices by Beijing, lack of transparency regarding the pandemic and China. military aggression in various parts of the world. (ANI)