China to Build Naval Dock At Djibouti Base
(Source: New Delhi Times; posted Nov 06, 2017)
China deals with defense sector establishments in a very critical and planned way. The nation has a strategic discourse on what and where to invest. It provides its army with best of equipment and tries to make it the best in the world. The United States of America and other western powers like Britain, France etc. are also dealing with zeal in the process of establishing their defense as one of the best. This race of being the best is actually a strategic planning especially between US and China, to emerge as the superpower.

Where on one hand, the US after Second World War led the world with its capitalistic policy of becoming more and more dominated, China, on the other hand, was a communist regime which was emerging with the same pace to be one of its kinds. In this continuous struggle, China and US, both have spent billions on defense establishments. China has been expanding at a very rapid speed in building its three sectors of defense i.e. land, sea, and air.

One of the recent explorations in case of China’s intent to strengthen its defense was building up of a pier at its base in Djibouti. The main motive of China behind establishing a pier was to provide a base for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels. Opened in 2016, the base is the biggest pier for the PLAN vessels. It will mark a new tradition in PLA’s Navy establishment. It has also been mentioned or stated by the Chinese authorities that the base is made operationalize to provide support to PLAN’s operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. In the working of its planned structure, the base will also help in peacekeeping operations and humanitarian missions which are going on in Africa. The estimated 50-year lease of the base would suffice it to be quite productive and target-oriented for the PLAN.

Djibouti holds a strategic importance for the foreign bases. It is a West Virginia size nation with the population of less than a million. Plus, the country’s political setup is so stable since 1977 that there has been no upheaval of the government since it got independence from France. The country also holds a geographically beneficial stand as it provides easy access to the nearby Suez Canal via Strait of Ban-el-Mandeb. It is believed that Djibouti and Yemen are the only two nations which border with the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The primary reason why the Chinese are so interested in establishing its base in Djibouti is that they need a large-scale pier which could act as a support to the Chinese flotillas which are conducting anti-piracy operations in Somali waters. The prepared wharf is estimated to hold docking of a four-ship flotilla, which will include China’s new generation Type 901 supply ship which holds a displacement factor of around 40,000 tonnes. There is special importance given to type 901. It is an 800-foot long fast combat support ship which had been launched in January 2016. The developments are huge and it seems that it is even a matter of worry for the US and other western powers. China doesn’t seem to be stopping at any cost in reaching far off with its strategic goals for the defence sector.

On the similar pattern, US have been providing an agitated way out for its army and navy and air-force to keep a check on the Chinese invasions. These two countries are so immersed into the war factors that they keep war missiles pointed at each other’s cities from target points though they do not even share borders.

The US in counter to China’s establishment of a pier in Djibouti has been sponsoring the debt-ridden Djibouti in order to establish ties with the Washington and prove beneficial in the long run. Overall, the scenario is quite competitive. The China’s work on the pier would not start until there is the construction of accommodation for Chinese military personnel.

But the Chinese base was opened officially on 1 August but PLAN vessel has not been given the permission to use it. Even the Type 920 hospital ship, Daishandao, was docked at a berth in the old port when it visited Djibouti. The whole idea behind building up a port for Type 901 is that it can be used as an aircraft carrier and in future China can deploy fast jets in a region where it has no air bases.

Not to be much of its concern but UN must interfere in such a strong accumulation of arms and ammunition. This activity by China though will strengthen the military base and will even provide leverage over attacking US cities in future if the war breaks out. But on the other hand, US are no less in implementing its terms and policies which will counter Chinese ideas. Thereby it is a situation where no would win but both have to invest extremely.

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