Military drill in Djibouti will not change China's defensive strategy

By Su Tan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/26 23:03:39

Troops at China's first military support base in African nation Djibouti, which was formally opened on August 1st, conducted live-fire drills on Thursday to verify the combat capability of troops and their weapons, and to improve their adaptability in the local environment, according to China's Ministry of National Defense

The logistics facility, China's only overseas base to support naval escorts, UN peacekeeping operations, humanitarian and anti-piracy missions, has long caught wide attention with persistent speculation over China's military intentions. The latest military drills have aroused a similar level of alert to some degree.

It's natural that the Chinese troops stationed at Djibouti must be always prepared for combat, which is what a military is supposed to do. After all, China has enormous economic ties with Djibouti and Africa as a whole. The China-backed free trade zone in Djibouti, the largest in Africa, will handle an estimated $7 billion in goods in the next two years. By the end of 2016, China had already invested more than $100 billion in Africa. This entails the duty of the Chinese military to safeguard China's interests in the continent, parts of which can be unstable.

Meanwhile, the horn of Africa country has a strategic location in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest shipping routes that links Europe to Asia and the Middle East, and which is plagued by pirates. Hence China's military presence there is also meant to protect the major strategic shipping lanes of the world from piracy and terrorism. This is a new responsibility that comes with a stronger China, and it's an essential and necessary one for the rising power.

In fact, China has proactively participated in anti-piracy operations in the region and obviously the Chinese military has played an important role in safeguarding Africa's security and stability. And China will continue to take on this responsibility.

However, conducting military drills and building a support base doesn't mean China is changing the defensive nature of its national policy, which the country has reiterated on numerous occasions. China's military operations in Africa are conducted under a UN framework with high respect for the sovereignty of other countries. This differs notably from Western countries, especially the US, which have always supported the regime change of governments that don't meet their demands. China will never do what they have done.

For Africans, China has already built its image of neutrality and as a guardian of peace and stability in recent years, and it will continue to maintain this image. In fulfilling its responsibilities, China deserves more support and less suspicion.

Newspaper headline: Military drill in Djibouti will not change China’s strategy

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