China's logistic hub in Djibouti to stabilize region, protect interests(2)

2016-03-16 09:09:28Global Times Li Yan ECNS App Download

Regional deterrence

The base will be part of the Doraleh Multipurpose Port which is being constructed by China State Construction Engineering Corp with a total investment of $590 million, according to Phoenix TV.

The port, about a 20-minute drive from Djbouti City, the capital, covers an area of 2.27 million square meters and 1,375 meters of coastline. It will have six berths after completion, one of which will be used for Chinese military vessels, according to the report.

"Many countries have military installations in Djibouti. Djibouti is a sovereign state. If China wants to build a naval base here, the government will also support it," Omar, a media worker from La Nation, a Djiboutian French-language weekly newspaper, told Phoenix TV. "As long as it is to fight against the terrorisms and piracy."

Djibouti also hopes the Chinese outpost can help empower its military.

In a statement titled "Will the Chinese army move to Djibouti quickly?" posted on its official website, the Embassy of the Republic of Djibouti in China implies the answer is "yes" by quoting its president Ismail Omar Guelleh and defense minister Hassan Darar Houffaneh.

"We hope to have more military cooperation with China, so as to strengthen the muscles of Djbouti's armed forces," said Houffaneh was quoted as saying.

In addition to rent paid to the government and the jobs created at the port, the logistic hub will also bring locals other benefits. Several Chinese who work in Djibouti revealed that not only the Chinese but also the locals welcome the Chinese military presence.

"The foreign military presence has deterred the country away from wars or riots," a Chinese who works in Djibouti told the Global Times on condition of anonymity. "The Chinese lease agreement will bring the country a large amount of funds."

Beijing hasn't disclosed how much exactly. A report by International Business Times says China will pay $100 million per year in rent for the base.

In 2014, the U.S. renewed its 10-year lease with Djibouti for its military base, agreeing to pay $63 million annually, which was nearly double the annual rent the country paid in its first 10-year-lease, according to a report by Qatar-based news portal

Djibouti has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of some $1.58 billion, so rent from military installations is highly important.

"The country is still generally poor and it is thirsty for investment and development opportunities," said the Chinese working in Djibouti. The per capita GDP of Djibouti was $1,229 in 2014, a tenth of the world average, according to, a website that provides economic data.

Expanding interests

China is also building other infrastructure in Djibouti, including an international airport, a water supply project and $4 billion railway line linking Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, to Djibouti's new port.

China is the largest trade partner of landlocked Ethiopia, one of the world's fastest-growing economies, with almost 90 percent of its imports going through Djibouti.

Besides, POLY-GCL Petroleum Group, a Chinese enterprise, announced in early March that it will fund a liquid national gas (LNG) facility in Djibouti.

According to LNG World News Staff, the terminal is part of the group's $4 billion gas project which will allow Ethiopia to export gas to China via a pipeline from Ethiopia to Djibouti.

Building this logistic hub will be a new way for China to protect its rising interests overseas while sharing more obligations to maintain international security, Chinese foreign affairs minister Wang Yi told press conference on March 8.

He said that more than 30,000 Chinese enterprises have expanded their presence overseas with millions of Chinese workers going abroad. Non-financial foreign investment reached $118 billion last year, and overseas assets total trillions of U.S. dollars.

"I would like to tell you explicitly that China will never repeat the expansion road of traditional powers, nor play power politics," Wang said.

Military expert Li Jie said as China's maritime interests expand overseas, he doesn't rule out the possibility that the country will increase the military component of the Djibouti base.

The U.S. maintains about 800 military bases in around 160 countries, which cost approximately $156 billion annually, according to military scholar David Vine, MintPress News Desk reported on March 7.

"But we will always stick to an 'active defense' strategy and commitment to peace," Li stated.

According to a white paper issued by China's Ministry of National Defense in May last year, "active defense" means "will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked."

In its annual report in May last year, the U.S. Department of Defense predicted that Beijing will "establish several access points" in the Indian Ocean within a decade.

Li said such predictions are not groundless. "China is actively promoting the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and such facilities will help shield the routes along the road," he said.

The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will stretch from China to the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and on to the Mediterranean.

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed to jointly build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, which have received support from many countries.

"If the Maritime Silk Road unfolds as planned, increased trade through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea will mean more need for anti-piracy missions - which makes it even more crucial for China to have resupply facilities nearby," The Diplomat said in an article in January.


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