06:37 GMT +3 hours29 August 2016
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Why America Should be Worried About China’s New Military Base in Africa

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China’s plans to build a military base in Djibouti could be the first step toward Beijing’s deeper involvement in Africa – a strategy that should make the United States "very nervous," according to journalist James Poulos.

Last year, China began talks with Djibouti to install a "logistics hub" and airfield in the east African nation.

"Over the past few years both countries’ friendly cooperative relationship has kept on developing, and in all areas there is practical cooperation," Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told reporters in June.

The United States, which also has military installations in Djibouti, raised concerns about China’s expanding sphere of influence. According to James Poulos, writing for The Week, Washington is right to be worried.

"Thanks to the much different challenges and priorities facing both powers, African intervention is shaping up as a feast for China and a famine for the US," Poulos writes.

Djibouti’s geostrategic location along the Red Sea, as well as its stable government, make it an ideal spot for both the US and China. But while Washington has used its military bases in Africa to launch drone operations, Beijing’s installation will be just the latest of many investments made on the continent.

"In Africa, China has found not just a market for money but for jobs and land – crucial components of sustained economic growth," Poulos writes.

During last month’s Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Beijing promised to invest $60 billion in Africa. Rather than the kind of interest-free aid provided by the West – policies that stymie economic growth and increase Africa’s dependence on wealthier nations – most of China’s investment money will come in the form of loans and export credits.

"China operates in Africa with greater aplomb and with more nuanced and mutually beneficial relationships than America’s corporations and its federal [government]," the Council of Foreign Relations notes in a blog post. "The USG’s most visible diplomatic effort in Africa, Power Africa, is sputtering. American businesses haven’t sufficiently picked up the slack."

As Poulos points out, the US is also bogged down in interventionist policies, struggling to confront terrorist groups like al-Shabab, Daesh, and Boko Haram.

"While China is free to pursue its economic and financial interests with clarity and focus, allowing its military and political agenda to unfold accordingly," he writes, "Washington finds itself scrambling to keep up with a sour security situation that doesn’t play to its strengths.

"Instead of reaching into Africa’s sub-Saharan heartland, where China is racking up lucrative or influential deals, the US will have to stretch itself remarkably thin over the wide and barren expanse of Africa’s northern tier."

As China makes progress in Africa, the United States appears to be on the decline.

"Although al-Shabab’s influence has been significantly reduced, nearby Ethiopia just booted the US out of a drone base Washington had hoped to expand…" Poulos writes. "In other words, as China sets up shop in Djibouti, the US finds itself restricted to that country for its eastern African operations – a precarious toehold in a competitive environment.

"This year, it [Africa] could become a new albatross for the US – and a new lifeline for China."

Related:
Is China Building a Military Base in Djibouti?
Kenya to Reap Rewards as Trade Hub in China's One Belt, One Road Initiative
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Tags:
government investments, military bases, Chinese Defense Ministry, Council of Foreign Relations, Yang Yujun, James Poulos, Djibouti, Africa, United States, China
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  • Mitach2002
    To bad for America but their time and worries as a superpower are over. The terrorist American government was a world leader for a rather short time. Thank god.
  • Nice! China is welcome to stay.
  • FlorianGeyer
    America relies on military might to promote US hegemony all over the world. Real trade to benefit both parties is replaced by crony dictators who enable the theft of the nations resources, to the detriment of the people.

    China seems to want to trade on a win win basis for both the Chinese and the host nations people. The British empire was somewhat like this and the legacy was often railways, sanitation and the structure of commerce etc.

    All the US leave in its wake is devastation,drugs and sexual diseases.
  • Ivan Zadorozhny
    That's a better investment than US treasury bonds.
  • michaelin reply toIvan Zadorozhny(Show commentHide comment)
    Ivan lol!
  • michael
    that's a very clever choice - for both parties. Let's see how this develops.
  • Mother Gorilla
    "struggling to confront terrorist groups like al-Shabab, Daesh, and Boko Haram."

    But are they really doing anything to get rid of these plagues, it seems they are acting everywhere either not at all or more like in Syria, where they are pursuing their own power policy play against President Assad?

    China is certainly the much more civilised nation. We hope it will help Africa stand on its own feet.
  • earlw35
    Like Rome, The US Empire is witnessing the beginning of the end.
  • cast235
    THIS is another reason Russia needs BIG bases at every continent. Each base should include all branches of Rus military. Including tasks for private military. Private could watch on others private mil.
    4,000 personnel or 3,500 per branch is desirable. It will help to watch citizens abroad, forge alliances, and earn tech and investments.
    And the main purpose, combat terrorism including piracy.
  • manofsteel194275
    Nothing happens in the Middle East or Africa except the Rothschild's criminal gang authorizes it. If China is there then the Rothschild's must like the idea. One thing is for sure: the Rothschild's are selling America out and off, we don't have anything left they want. Get ready for the fall it is coming.
  • tobi.gelando
    The USA is +/- 250 years old....
    China has a culture witch is +/- 4000 years old.
    This say's all.
  • Ivan Buckeye
    Good for China. Let China distract the American government while Russia and others further rout the globe of these parasites. Someone needs to knock down these oligarchs in the U.S. and better it be if China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and others create a broad area of worry for the U.S. officials and the wealthy scum running this country.
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