PLA Djibouti base must be viewed objectively

Source
Global Times
Editor
Zhang Tao
Time
2017-07-13

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) support base in Djibouti was established on July 11. It is China's first overseas base, attracting wide attention from the international community.

It is worth noting that the PLA Djibouti base is a support base, and it is not described as a military base.

It is the PLA's first overseas base where troops will be stationed instead of offering commercial logistics support. This base can help the PLA Navy in its missions far from home and thus is more meaningful.

However, this base is different from the overseas military bases of other big countries. For example, the US' military bases overseas are usually tasked with maintaining a military presence and military deterrence for the region, and serve to support US hegemony around the world. The US has stationed 4,000 military personnel in Djibouti, and deployed P-3C patrol aircraft and F-16 fighter jets there. It is a military outpost for the US to exert influence on Africa.

The establishment of the PLA Djibouti base was originally due to the supply difficulties for Chinese ships carrying out escort duties in the Gulf of Aden. Up to now, in Africa, the PLA Navy has conducted tasks that included combating piracy, escort and evacuation of nationals. For a long time, the missions will be similar. Therefore, the main task of the PLA Djibouti base is offering logistics support for escort ships.

Some foreign media speculate the base will be turned into a military outpost for China to carry out big power games in the Indian Ocean. The US, France and Japan also have bases in Djibouti. However, China's base has invoked wide discussion, which may be caused by China's recent development. Nowadays, whatever China does is subject to over-interpretation. China just needs to focus on its own affairs and should not be confused by outside opinions.

China building a strong blue-water navy will be a long-term undertaking. Big power competition in a faraway ocean is not what China thinks about. There are urgent things for China to do, such as safeguarding sovereignty over Taiwan and maintaining national interests in the South China Sea. These realistic demands determine the direction and areas for China's strategic concerns.

The US military base in Diego Garcia focuses on the Indian Ocean and projects deterrent effects for a wider area. Owning this kind of overseas base is beyond China's scope for this generation. The West shouldn't speculate this way.

China is developing well. But China knows it has the most onerous development and governance tasks in the world. The basic purpose for China to develop its military power is to guarantee national security instead of leading the world. If other countries can view China's interaction with the outside world in this light, communication between China and them will be more effective.

 

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