China is establishing its first military base in Africa, according to a top U.S. general, providing yet another sign of its growing reach beyond the Asia-Pacific.
"They are going to build a base in Djibouti, so that will be their first military location in Africa," U.S. Army Gen. David Rodriguez, the commander of U.S. Africa Command, recently told defense reporters.
There has been speculation for years that China might establish a base in Djibouti. Rodriguez said China has signed a 10-year contract with the African nation.
The base, he said, would serve as a logistics hub for China to be able to "extend their reach."
Setting up a military base in Africa makes perfect sense given China’s vast economic presence in the region, said J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council. The base would be cheaper than China’s current, temporary arrangements that allow for docking ships at Djibouti ports to conduct naval patrols, he said.
The base also gives China an airfield that could significantly improve its intelligence gathering capabilities over the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Eastern Libya and well into Central Africa.
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Seventy percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land is in Africa. And that land is seen as a possible solution to feed the globe’s growing population. But Africa’s agriculture has been declining steadily since the 70's, and if this continent is to become the world’s bread basket, it will need some help.
Talk Africa explores China's role in helping equip Africa with the necessary knowledge and skills to achieve it's full agricultural potential.
As we continue our series on China-Africa co-operation, this week we’ll unpack China’s support of Africa’s agriculture.
Chinese President Xi Jinping told African leaders on Friday his country would pump $60 billion into development projects, cancel some debt and boost agriculture under a three-year plan that will extend Beijing's influence in the continent.
Xi said China would not interfere in African countries' internal affairs, a stance that drew applause from leaders such as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe who have faced Western criticism of their human rights record.
But China too has irked some Africans in the past for using Chinese firms and labor to build state-funded roads and railways in Africa while buying up commodities and leaving little for local economies, an image Xi is keen to change during a two-day conference in South Africa that ends on Saturday.
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Zimbabwwean President Robert Mugabe has reiterated that the China Africa relationship does not only benefit China.
In his speech, President Mugabe refuted claims that China only wants Africa's resources.
Near Africa's horn on the easternmost part of the continent, a shiny new electric railway runs alongside an old abandoned track through both arid desert and green highlands.
Some 750 kilometres (466 miles) long, the $4 billion line opened in October and links landlocked Ethiopia to the coast in Djibouti.
It was partly funded and built by Chinese companies, just like the other planned lines it could soon link up with neighboring Sudan and Kenya -- where the first part of a new $13 billion Kenyan railway linking Mombasa to Nairobi is taking shape.
The sprawling network is planned to continue into South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, as part of transnational efforts to connect countries within East Africa.
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