China established its first overseas base in Djibouti only a few months ago but the base has been a beehive of activity. Chinese state-run television showed images of armored vehicles firing cannons, and soldiers engaging targets as the Chinese continue to expand their influence around the world.
“The overseas troops will engage in regular military exercises just like troops serving [in China]. But their practice should soon have a different focus, rather than basic shooting training because their mission in Djibouti is to protect China’s interests in Africa, as well as peacekeeping,” Zhou said.
China’s overseas military expansion was the focus of a July Pentagon report, which said that Beijing may soon seek to establish a network of similar facilities around the world.
China first started constructing the Djibouti base in early 2015. Located near one of the world’s busiest shipping channels, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the move would allow China to contribute to regional peace and stability, and extend its efforts to combat Somali pirates.
According to the Pentagon report, the Djibouti base, “along with regular naval vessel visits to foreign ports, both reflects and amplifies China’s growing influence, extending the reach of its armed forces,” and it may be the first of many such overseas bases.
“China most likely will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and in which there is a precedent for hosting foreign militaries,” the report says.
In a landmark speech in 2015, President Xi Xinping said: “We Chinese love peace. No matter how much stronger it may become, China will never seek hegemony or expansion. It will never inflict its past suffering on any other nation.”
The Chinese are looking to push the US in an attempt to have the most influence in different parts of the world as their expansion of power and influence continues. The base in Djibouti is just the first of many new bases the Chinese government will open in the next few years.
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