China Open’s Military Installation on the Horn of Africa

China announced on November 26 that it would be establishing its first overseas military outpost at Obock, Djibouti.  Although Beijing refrained from calling it a military base, instead saying it would only be used to supply Chinese naval ships on UN anti-piracy missions, it is believed the base will facilitate broader goals of the military and operate to protect Chinese economic interests in the region.  The base is located next to a major pinch point along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the global oil trade.

Beijing likely has the protection of trade routes and regional investments in mind and recognizes the location‘s strategic significance.  Across the Gulf of Tadjoura from the new installation is the U.S. military base, Camp Lemonnier.  In addition to the U.S. installation, France maintains a base in the country and Japan houses several hundred personnel and a number of surveillance aircraft there in order to assist UN anti-piracy operations.