China forges strategic ties with Djibouti after opening base

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 23 November 2017
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China forges strategic ties with Djibouti after opening base

BEIJING: China on Thursday offered loans to Djibouti, the site of its first overseas military base, as the Horn of Africa state’s leader told President Xi Jinping he considered himself a great friend of the Asian giant.
With a population of less than one million, Djibouti has long punched above its weight, thanks to a strategic location on the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes linking Europe to Asia and the Middle East.
China formally opened the base, which it calls a logistics facility, on Aug. 1, the 90th birthday of the People’s Liberation Army. Djibouti also hosts large US and French bases.
Djibouti was politically stable, Xi told its president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, at a meeting in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
“China sets great store by its relations with Djibouti,” he added.
Guelleh, who has been in power since 1999, said he considered himself a “great friend of China’s” and could not count the number of times he had visited.
“Djibouti is known for being a country of peace, exchanges and meetings,” Guelleh said.
“I would like to recall the geostrategic position of Djibouti and its importance in this part of the world as an island of stability for Asia, Africa and the Middle East.”
The two, who did not mention the military base in comments to reporters, later oversaw the signing of a framework pact for preferential loans.
Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong declined to reveal the amount of loans offered, saying he could not remember.
“In this area both countries have always had good cooperation,” Chen told reporters.
Xi and Guelleh did discuss the military base, Chen added.
“What I want to stress is that China building a logistics base in Djibouti benefits China to even better fulfil its naval protection, peace-keeping, disaster relief and other international work,” he said.
The base will be used to resupply navy ships participating in peacekeeping, humanitarian and anti-piracy missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular.
The Chinese base is just a few miles from Camp Lemonnier, the US’ only permanent base in Africa.
A Pentagon report said the strategically-sited camp, “along with regular naval vessel visits to foreign ports, both reflects and amplifies China’s growing influence, extending the reach of its armed forces.”
China also has deep economic interests in Djibouti.
Last week, China’s POLY-GCL Petroleum Group Holdings Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding to invest $4 billion in a natural gas project in Djibouti.
In January, the government launched construction of a project billed as Africa’s largest free trade zone, as part of China’s massive Belt and Road infrastructure initiative stretching to Asia, Europe and beyond.


China: US has ‘no right’ to interfere in Russia military cooperation

Updated 15 min 5 sec ago
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China: US has ‘no right’ to interfere in Russia military cooperation

  • The US would face “consequences” if it did not immediately revoke the sanctions
  • The US State Department imposed sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department

SHANGHAI/BEIJING: China’s decision to buy fighter jets and missile systems from Russia is a normal act of cooperation between sovereign countries and the United States has “no right to interfere,” defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Saturday.
On Thursday, the US State Department imposed sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department (EED), the branch of the military responsible for weapons procurement, after it engaged in “significant transactions” with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms exporter.
The sanctions are related to China’s purchase of 10 SU-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment in 2018, the State Department said.
The sanctions will block the EED and its director, Li Shangfu, from applying for export licenses and participating in the US financial system.
“The US approach is a blatant violation of the basic norms of international relations, a full manifestation of hegemony, and a serious breach of the relations between the two countries and their two militaries,” Wu said in a notice posted on the Chinese defense ministry’s official Wechat account.
He warned that the United States would face “consequences” if it did not immediately revoke the sanctions.