China’s new base in Djibouti is much larger in scale than previously thought. The base has extensive underground space, multiple security layers but thus far, they’ve yet to begin construction of docks.
It is believed that until the Chinese build docks on their base, they’ll use the commercial docks available.
Two images provided by Stratfor Worldview and Allsource Analysis show the base in Djibouti, located at a strategic choke point on the Horn of Africa, to be heavily fortified with three layers of security and has about 23,000 square meters (about 250,000 square feet) of underground space, according to analysis provided by Stratfor.
“This type of construction is in line with known Chinese practices in hardening their military bases. The underground structures allow for unobserved activity, as well as offer protection to vehicles or facilities critical to the Chinese mission in Djibouti,” Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence firm, said in an analysis accompanying the images.
China dispatched troops to the base earlier this month. The United States, France and Japan also have permanent military bases there, but Tack said those are not as heavily fortified.
It’s not clear how big the Chinese base is, but for comparison, the US base was expanded to 500 acres in 2007.
“Even though this is just one of those bases in Djibouti as several other countries have, China has taken it’s own methods into Djibouti,” Stratfor Senior Analyst Sim Tack told CNN.
China’s Defense Ministry has touted the base as a way for the People’s Liberation Army to help bring peace and security to the region by providing a means of carrying out anti-piracy operations and humanitarian assistance.
However an image from July 4 showed the Chinese had not yet begun building docks, which Stratfor called notable due to the bases aforementioned purpose.
“I wouldn’t say it’s irregular, but I would’ve expected to see a dock,” Tack said.
A dock will likely be constructed eventually, and China could use Djibouti’s commercial report until that time, according to Stratfor.
Analysts say the base is part of China’s efforts to establish a truly global naval force that’s capable of conducting operations around the world — a so-called “blue water navy” — though Chinese state media has pushed back on suggestions that Beijing will flex its muscles globally.
The Chinese are building hangars for helicopters and drones but they don’t appear large enough for fighter aircraft at this time.
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