The People's Liberation Army Support Base in Djibouti is a military base operated by China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), located in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. It is the PLAN's first overseas military base and was built at a cost of US$590 million. The facility is expected to significantly increase China's power projection in the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean, as well as the PLAN's blue water capabilities. The People's Liberation Army Navy has used the base to conduct anti-piracy operations off of the coast of Djibouti and around the Horn of Africa. It is also expected to take part in activities such as intelligence collection, non-combat evacuation operations, peacekeeping operations support and counterterrorism. As of 2017, the base commander is Liang Yang.
|People's Liberation Army Base in Djibouti|
|Near Balbala in Djibouti|
|Coordinates||11° 35′ 24.83″ N, 43° 3′ 47.23″ E|
|Owner||Central Military Commission|
|Operator||People's Liberation Army Navy|
|Controlled by||People’s Republic of China|
|In use||August 1, 2017|
|Occupants||1,000-2,000 Navy Personnel|
|People's Liberation Army Support Base in Djibouti|
|Literal meaning||China People Liberation Army in-Djibouti Support Base|
Djibouti is strategically situated by the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which separates the Gulf of Aden from the Red Sea and guards the approaches to the Suez Canal. The Chinese base is located by the Chinese-operated Port of Doraleh to the west of Djibouti City. To the south of the city are several other foreign military bases, including Camp Lemonnier (United States Navy), Base aerienne 188 (French Air Force), and the Japan Self-Defense Force Base Djibouti.
Negotiations for China to create a strategic base in Djibouti began with President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh in approximately 2015. Negotiations were concluded in January 2016, with China and Djibouti having "reached consensus" on the construction of naval facilities, and in March 2016, construction of the naval base began.
On July 11, 2017, the People's Liberation Army Navy dispatched ships from the South Sea Fleet in Zhanjiang to open the base officially. The base was formally opened on August 1, 2017. The first live fire exercises were conducted on September 22, 2017.
Around May 2018, China began constructing a large-scale pier (over 330 meters in length or 1,120 feet) at the base, and appeared to be fully completed after 18 months from a satellite photo taken in December 2019. Satellite analysis show that China may be building a second pier or quay as to increase the naval capacity of the base.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning in April 2020, the People's Liberation Army Navy began taking precautions to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak at the base by enforcing stricter entry and exit controls as well as deploying additional medical personnel to the base. The precautions also were adopted at other military bases in China.
China has stated that the facility will serve primarily to support military logistics for Chinese troops in the Gulf of Aden, and also other activities that are a net positive for maritime public goods, including peacekeeping, humanitarian and disaster relief operations in Africa. It also bolsters the Chinese navy's efforts to prevent piracy on high seas, and allows easy access for the PLAN warships into the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean.
China views its facility in Djibouti as consistent with its obligations under its 2015 National Security Law, which calls for protection of strategic energy supply channels (in clause 28) and citizens abroad (in clause 30). Based on its experience in evacuating 35,000 Chinese citizens from Libya in 2011 and over 600 from Yemen in 2015, China sought a more permanent presence in the region to facilitate evacuations if necessary in the future. However, China avoids the terms "military base" or "naval base" and prefers the term "support facility" or "logistic facility". This implies a different approach to naval power projection.
The heavily fortified base is 0.5 square kilometres (0.2 sq mi) in size and staffed by approximately 1,000-2,000 personnel, and has an underground space of 23,000 square meters. The base has a 400m runway with an air traffic control tower, as well as a large helicopter apron. The base also houses the PLA Support Base Hospital in Djibouti.
A pier finished construction in December 2019. The 1,120 foot pier is reported to be long enough to be able to fit the PLAN's two new aircraft carriers and other warships or at least four nuclear powered submarines.
Tensions with foreign militariesEdit
The presence of a Chinese base in close proximity to a US base has created geopolitical tensions. The United States had blocked a Russian base in 2014 and started a US$1 billion upgrade of Camp Lemonnier. US government officials were "blindsided" by Djibouti's approval of a Chinese base just two years later. Djiboutian President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh claimed that the United States had a "fixation" about the Chinese base and complained "incessantly" that the Chinese were hampering their operations. He also said that the Japanese were even more worried than the Americans. Guelleh said that the Chinese would have no problem cohabiting with Western powers if they didn't "spy constantly" on the Chinese.
According to Chinese prosecutor Jian Jiamin, the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force sent divers to approach a Chinese warship while it was docked at the base, who were detected and driven off.
In 2018, the United States Department of Defense issued a NOTAM reporting instances of laser attacks against pilots flying near the base, injuring two airmen. The Chinese Defense Ministry called the accusations "untrue" and asked the United States "to not swiftly speculate or make accusations." China, in turn, complains low-flying American aircraft have conducted spy missions near its base.
- Africa–China relations
- Africa–China economic relations
- String of Pearls (Indian Ocean), China's power projection strategy
- Belt and Road Initiative
- List of military bases
- Other military bases in Djibouti:
- Chinese police overseas service stations
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About half an hour's drive west of the restaurant, a Chinese military base is surreptitiously taking shape near the dusty construction site of the China-funded, US$590 million Doraleh Multipurpose Port.
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So far China's military involvement in the Horn of Africa has mainly consisted of anti-piracy missions, but it is believed it could support other key missions including intelligence collection, non-combat evacuation operations, peacekeeping operations support and counterterrorism.
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China is negotiating a military base in a strategic port of Djibouti, the president said, according to the AFP news agency. [...] "Discussions are ongoing," President Ismail Omar Guelleh said in an interview in Djibouti, saying Beijing's presence would be "welcome".
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Cementing a deal that has been hinted at for months, China is moving forward to build what's believed to be its first overseas military facility, in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti. The outpost is meant to bolster the Chinese navy's efforts to prevent piracy. [...] He added that China and Djibouti have "reached consensus" on building the facilities, a plan that Chinese officials spoke about publicly last fall.
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China and Djibouti consulted with each other and reached consensus on building logistical facilities in Djibouti, which will enable the Chinese troops to better fulfill escort missions and make new contributions to regional peace and stability.
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In the early morning of July 11, China held an official ceremony in the port of Zhanjiang, south China's Guangdong province. The commander of China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), Shen Jinlong, "read an order on constructing the base in Djibouti, and conferred military flag on the fleets." Then Shen ordered, "Set off!" and the ships carrying Chinese military personnel departed the port, reported Xinhua.
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Ships carrying Chinese military personnel departed Zhanjiang in southern China's Guangdong Province on Tuesday to set up a support base in Djibouti.
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China formally opened its first overseas military base on Tuesday with a flag raising ceremony in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, the same day as the People's Liberation Army marks its 90th birthday, state media said.
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The opening ceremony on August 1, 2017 was followed a month and a half later with live fire exercises.
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- ^ Chan, Minnie; Ng, Teddy (April 24, 2020). "Chinese and US militaries on Covid-19 alert in Djibouti as rivals face common threat". South China Morning Post. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
"In some circumstances, the requirements will be stricter – for example, the entry and exit controls at the Djibouti base are more stringent," he said. "There are medical personnel in the base who are also trained to take care of and test for Covid-19 [the disease caused by the coronavirus], and there are facilities for that.
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China is constructing a naval base in Djibouti to provide what it calls logistical support in one of the world's busiest waterways. The defence ministry said in a statement last year that the facility was mostly for resupply purposes for anti-piracy, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations.
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The base—roughly half a square kilometer—is reported to be staffed by about a battalion-size formation, or about 1,000 personnel.
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- ^ Zhen, Liu (May 2, 2018). "US warns airmen to beware of laser attacks near China's military base in Djibouti". South China Morning Post.
The military issued a Notice to Airmen, later reproduced on the US Federal Aviation Administration's website, that there had been multiple events "involving a high-power laser" just 750 metres (2,400ft) from China's base in Djibouti.
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