Issue Brief on “Chinese Naval Base in Djibouti: Possibilities and Implications”

The Chinese inaugurated their first overseas military base on August 1, 2017 with a flag raising ceremony in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa.[1] China claims it to be a logistics support base for their antipiracy operations along the Horn of Africa. The base is on a 9-year lease, with a capacity of up to 10,000 soldiers. China already has 2400 peacekeepers on the continent.[2] However, Chinese boots on ground in Djibouti, which itself is a host to two other foreign nation bases (including United States and France) has more than one dimension to it. One obvious dimension is the notion of ‘String of Pearls’ in Chinese military strategy linked to their national interest of protecting those Sea Lanes of Communications (SLCs) from where it ensures energy and economic security at home.

From an African perspective, growing international economic and strategic interests in the African continent will help “Rising Africa” realise its potential. However, developments such as the above will surely have implications including, most importantly, those on the African society, resulting from increased competition among external powers for African resources. In addition, volatile security situation in African needs to be addressed before any progress is consolidated, which would entail a cooperative mechanism among external powers in Africa and adjoining Oceans.

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