Beijing is seeking to extend its influence in Africa through both economic and military means, as it continues to project its power around the world. The People’s Republic established its first military base in Doraleh, Djibouti on Africa’s eastern coast back in 2017. The move caused considerable alarm among US military officials, as the new base was located just eight miles from a US military facility.
Control of Djibouti’s eastern coast would allow any major power to potentially control access to the Suez Canal, a vital shipping route.
Professor Gerald Horne, from the University of Houston, told The Sun Online: “Certainly, the signs of impending conflict between China and the US are worrisome, especially as suggested in the recent novel by NATO former leader, James Stavridis.
“Since Djibouti contains bases of both China and the US (and others) it is likely the flashpoint.”
However, China’s military ambitions are not confined to this small eastern African state.
US General Stephen Townsend warned that Beijing is now looking to extend its military presence to Africa’s Atlantic coast.
In an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday, he said that China wanted to set up a large navy port capable of hosting submarines or aircraft carriers on Africa’s western coast.
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“They’re a long way toward establishing that in Djibouti.
“Now they’re casting their gaze to the Atlantic coast and wanting to get such a base there.”
Beijing has substantial economic interests on Africa’s west coast, including fishing and oil.
Henry Tugendhat, a senior policy analyst with the United States Institute of Peace, told Voanews.com that China’s desire for ocean access on Africa’s Atlantic coast could be driven more by economic rather than military considerations.