China’s First Overseas Military Base Raises ‘Significant Concerns’ For US Military

REUTERS/China Daily

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
Font Size:

China’s new military base on the Horn of Africa is reportedly raising red flags for the U.S. military.

China began constructing a base in Djibouti last year, right next door to an important American military base used by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), as well as Central Command, Special Operations Command, and European Command.

“We’ve never had a base of, let’s just say a peer competitor, as close as this one happens to be,” Marine Corps General Thomas Waldhauser, commander of AFRICOM, told Colin Clark at Breaking Defense. “There are some very significant operational security concerns” with regard to China’s base development.

China denies that the facility being constructed in Obock, Djibouti is a military base, instead calling it a “depot” or “support facility.” Waldhauser said that the facility is almost certainly a “military base.”

The Chinese base, which will house an estimated 10,000 personnel, is expected to be completed this summer.

China’s statements on the purpose of the base in Djibouti have been contradictory at times, with Chinese defense officials claiming the base is not a military base while asserting that it will aid Chinese military missions and protect China’s “lawful interests” in the region. Many controversial and contested interests, such as the South China Sea, are regarded as “lawful interests,” which China occasionally calls its core interests.

China’s base is located near Camp Lemonnier, which is, according to former President Barack Obama, “extraordinarily important not only to our work throughout the Horn of Africa but throughout the region.” During the previous administration, the U.S. base reportedly played a prominent role in certain U.S. counter-terrorism operations.

The U.S. base in Djibouti, home to 4,000 U.S. military personnel, has been operational since 2001 and is the only permanent American military installation in Africa.

Observers are wary of China’s strategic intentions for the region.

“It’s a huge strategic development,” Peter Dutton, a professor of strategic studies at the Naval War College, explained to the New York Times, “It’s naval power expansion for protecting commerce and China’s regional interests … This is what expansionary powers do.” China is suspected to be incrementally boosting its ability to project power on the open seas.

China, however, asserts that the Djibouti base will simply serve as a supply base, primarily providing food and fuel to military personnel.

Follow Ryan on Twitter

Send tips to

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact