by Dan Bland, Dennis Wong and Darren Long
Last August, China opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti, a tiny nation in the Horn of Africa. Djibouti plays host to more foreign military facilities than anywhere else in the world, offering a key strategic location to supply regional peacekeeping and humanitarian missions and combat piracy. This August, China was reported to be funding a mountain brigade and training facility for Afghan troops in the Wakhan Corridor, bordering China’s troubled Muslim region of Xinjiang.
China formally opened its first overseas military base on August 1, 2017 — the same day that the People’s Liberation Army celebrated its 90th birthday. Beijing says Djibouti is ideally placed for China to resupply peacekeeping and humanitarian missions and combat piracy off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia.
A former French colony, the multi-ethnic Republic of Djibouti is about the size of Wales. It occupies 23,200km sq of mostly volcanic desert, is devoid of natural resources, and has a population below a million. However, the country’s location is of key strategic value. Situated on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean, at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, Djibouti controls access to the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean, home to some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Djibouti offers China the ability to operate military missions far from home…