China has started building a naval port in Djibouti, the tiny African country located at the crucial junction of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, as it continues expanding its international influence.
Its first military supply depot in Africa, the base at Doraleh will support the Chinese Navy’s operations in the Indian Ocean and establish China’s presence on one of the world’s busiest waterways leading to the Suez Canal.
The Djibouti port will fulfil multiple purposes, including handling bulk commodities, containers and other goods. The Chinese Navy would use one of the berths
Upon completion of the base, the Chinese Navy will become neighbours with the American and French forces who already have a base in the country.
"The construction of infrastructure and facilities has begun, and we have sent some people to work on that," said Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian on 26 February, reports South China Morning Post.
China will fund most of the project, which Reuters reported would cost $590m. China is the biggest investor in Djibouti, one of Africa’s poorest nations.
The Djibouti port will fulfil multiple purposes, including handling bulk commodities, containers and other goods. The Chinese Navy would use one of the berths, Reuters reported.
Chinese naval vessels have been active in the Gulf of Aden since they conducted anti-pirate operations in the region in 2008.
After taking Djibouti as a transition port to evacuate nearly 900 people from Yemen last year, China started negotiations to build a permanent base in the country.
China is seeking to increase its military’s presence and security influence abroad to safeguard its growing international interests, which cover strategic areas along the "One Belt, One Road" route.
China is also building facilities at the port of Gwadar, situated at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just outside the Strait of Hormuz in Pakistan’s western province of Balochistan.
Map: The poor African nation of Djibouti lies at the junction of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, a crucial shipping route leading to the Suez Canal (Google Maps)