Chinese Navy logistics base in Djibouti will drive other investment, says adviser
But arrival of PLA will mark the fourth foreign military presence in tiny but strategic Horn of Africa nation
The construction of a logistics base for the Chinese navy on the Horn of Africa is expected to prompt more Chinese investment in Djibouti, a government adviser said on Monday.
“We see benefits behind it [the base construction] for Djibouti and its people. This will also bring us more investors and companies from China,” Samir Aden Cheikh, an adviser to the country’s minister of finance and industry, said on the sidelines of an event hosted by the Finance Centre for South-South Cooperation in Beijing.
There was no completion date yet for the base, Cheikh said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.
China last year confirmed that it has been in talks with the tiny but strategically located country to build military logistics facilities in the Horn of Africa country to support Chinese peacekeeping and anti-piracy missions.
Cheikh said that the two countries may reach a pact on strengthening the economic ties in the next two to three months.
Beijing has memorandums of understanding will 34 countries including Egypt and South Africa unde4r the framework of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiatives.
Djibouti, which was administered by France until 1977, is located near the entrance to the Bab el-Mandeb, the narrow strait where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest and most strategic waterways with shipping passing to and from the Suez Canal.
The entire country covers just 23,200 square kilometres – about twice the size of Sydney, Australia – and already hosts Camp Lemonnier, the only permanent US military base in Africa, along with French and Japanese troops and ships.
But the country’s new Doraleh container terminal is seen as ideal for supporting the People’s Liberation Army’s operations in the Indian Ocean.
“Despite criticism from the West about China’s presence, we think Djibouti can be a meeting point between East and West,” said Cheikh.
“We have no idea [when the construction will complete],” he said adding that the Djibouti government would not intervene the management and operation of the Chinese navy’s logistics base.
“Although it is in Djibouti, it is a Chinese base, and I think the Djibouti government will not intervene,” Cheikh said.
The PLA Navy has been carrying out shipping escort and anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and surrounding region since 2008.
“China’s investment is very welcome one because Djibouti is in the hub of Africa and needs much infrastructure,” he said.
Investors were are encouraged to hire local people to help address Djibouti’s high unemployment rate, Cheikh added.