Author: Ai Jun
Posted on: Global Times, November 29, 2016
Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, visited Chinese troops who are constructing a support facility at the Port of Djibouti during his recent visit from November 16 to 24, according to the Chinese Ministry of National Defense. This is the very first visit paid by a high-level Chinese military official to this eastern corner of Africa.
As usual, this Chinese supply facility seen through the lens of the Western media has become Beijing’s “first overseas naval base,” which seems to be increasingly eager to cover the development of this so-called military outpost as well as China’s “military expansion.”
Between the western edge of the Gulf of Aden and the entrance to the Red Sea, connecting the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea, Djibouti serves as a crucial point in China’s “One Belt and One Road” initiative. China is investing billions of dollars into construction projects in the country, including railways, airports and harbors. Establishing a support facility there meets the need to safeguard Beijing’s own interests.
Moreover, the shipping routes near Djibouti have long suffered from severe assaults from pirates. Since 2008, China has sent 24 naval escort fleets to the Gulf of Aden and Somali’s waters to help protect the safety of ships in the region. Yet without a support facility in a port nearby, the process of refueling and replenishing daily supplies can be very difficult.
For these reasons, Fan required during his visit to speed up the construction schedule of overseas support facilities, ensure construction quality and improve the effectiveness of military assistance to foreign countries.
For Djibouti, where military forces from the US, France and Japan have come in crowds for years, China is only a newcomer.
Apart from the fact that the Chinese facility is far from being a military base either in terms of purpose, scale or function, there is nothing to accuse Beijing of when it is protecting its own interests.
With the rapidly increasing number of Chinese people going abroad and more and more overseas investment from Chinese companies, the nation’s national interests that are expanding around the globe are becoming greater in amount at the same time.
Against this backdrop, China should be able to safeguard those interests wherever they are.
Beijing’s security strategy and foreign policies have never been aggressive or expansionary. China has also been very cautious when it comes to establishing overseas military facilities because it follows a national policy of peaceful development.
As a country which sticks to the principle of not interfering in other nations’ domestic affairs, Beijing’s security strategy is all about defense. Yet this does not run counter to protecting its interests.