Connect with us

Defense

China’s first overseas military base in Africa

Published

on

With more such projects in the pipeline at least in Asia, China has opened its first ever over sees military base on October 31 in African country of Djibouti. 

Speaking to China’s Djibouti-based forces during a visit to a joint battle command center in Beijing, Chinese President Xi “got a good understanding” of the base’s operations and the lives of the soldiers there, China’s Defense Ministry said late Friday.

Xinhua said in its short report that the ships had departed from Zhanjiang in southern China “to set up a support base in Djibouti.” Navy commander Shen Jinlong “read an order on constructing the base in Djibouti.” It did not say when the base might formally begin operations.

Ships carrying Chinese military personnel for Beijing’s first overseas military base, in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, have left China to begin setting up the facility, the state news agency Xinhua reported.  Troops serving at China’s first overseas military base, in the Horn of Africa country of Djibouti, should help promote peace and stability, President Xi Jinping told them in a video chat, encouraging them to promote a good image.

China began construction of the base in Djibouti last year. It will be used to resupply navy ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular. Xi “encouraged them to establish a good image for China’s military and promote international and regional peace and stability”, the ministry said.

This will be China’s first overseas naval base, although Beijing officially terms it a logistics facility.  China began construction of a logistics base in strategically located Djibouti last year that will resupply naval vessels taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular.

$180 billion spent

After months of anticipation since announcing plans for its first foreign base, China opened what it calls a logistical facility on August 1. The base will be used mainly to resupply ships moving through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, and support humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts in East Africa, China has said. Satellite photos, however, have led to speculation about a large underground area where unseen equipment may be stored, and the facility could shift the balance of power in the region.

Xinhua said the establishment of the base was a decision made by both countries after “friendly negotiations, and accords with the common interest of the people from both sides.”

The base will ensure China’s performance of missions, such as escorting, peacekeeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia. The base will also be conducive to overseas tasks including military cooperation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese, and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of international strategic seaways.

China spent $180 billion on its People’s Liberation Army last year, according to the Pentagon report, though the report concedes “it is difficult to estimate actual military expenses, largely due to China’s poor accounting transparency.”

China’s official defense budget puts its expenditures at about $140 billion, but that budget fails to include major defense expenditures related to research and procurement of foreign equipment. The official Chinese defense budget has nearly doubled since 2007, from roughly $75 billion to $140 billion in 2016.

The base is part of China’s plan to expand its Belt and Road Initiative, a $1 trillion plan to link China with 68 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe through trade deals and infrastructure projects. The initiative was first announced in 2013 and includes a Chinese presence around the east coast of Africa.

Economic power

Chinese President Xi Jinping is overseeing an ambitious military modernization program, including developing capabilities for China’s forces to operate far from home.  During his visit to the command center, Xi also instructed the armed forces to improve their combat capability and readiness for war, the ministry said. Xi said progress in joint operation command systems, especially in efficiency at the regional level, was needed and troops must conduct training under combat conditions.

Djibouti, which is about the size of Wales, is at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal.  The tiny, barren nation sandwiched between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia also hosts USA, Japanese and French bases.

Products that China wants to ship are based in the region, so it makes sense to expand the infrastructure to transport them. But the Djibouti facility is also a sign of China diversifying its engagement and avoiding restrictions on its presence. This might be the start of some more military, security-related bases

Currently, China mainly imports minerals and oil from Africa, but its long-term plan is to build factories on the continent and move some of its manufacturing there to take advantage of the cheaper labor and geographic position.

Pakistan singled out

There has been persistent speculation in diplomatic circles that China would build other such bases, in Pakistan for example, but the government has dismissed this. Myanmar and Sri Lanka are other nations China would be considering for similar military bases.

The report singles out Pakistan as one of those allies potentially willing to host Chinese troops and says China already has begun construction on a military base in the small east African country Djibouti, which lies along the Gulf of Aden. The Pentagon believes construction will be completed within the next year. “This initiative, along with regular naval vessel visits to foreign ports, both reflects and amplifies China’s growing influence, extending the reach of its armed forces,” the report reads.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying blasted the report, saying it disregarded facts and made “irresponsible remarks.” Speaking with reporters, Hua refused to comment on the potential future overseas bases, but said China is a force for safeguarding peace in Asia and “friendly cooperation between China and Pakistan does not target any third party.” “We hope the USA side will put aside the Cold War mentality, view China’s military development in an objective and rational manner, and take concrete actions to maintain steady growth of the military relationship between the two countries,” she said.

Djibouti is located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal. The tiny, barren nation sandwiched amid Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia also hosts USA, Japanese and French bases.

China’s new military and logistical base in Djibouti has put other foreign powers on edge, but observers believe China’s strategy in the region is more about economic growth than military might.

Djibouti’s position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fueled worry in India that it would become another of China’s “string of pearls” military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Regional concern

China’s ambitions have fueled concern in India, which has watched its neighbor’s presence grow in the Indian Ocean. In a strategy known as the “string of pearls,” China already has military and commercial links with Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.  India has always viewed the Indian Ocean region as its domain, and as China increasingly has more economic interest and a large military presence in the region, India seeking to play a larger global role is going to have deeper and deeper concerns about its presence.

The base in Djibouti is like a game changer in terms of the security environment, and India is worried about it. The speed with which China is executing its strategy in the region caught India off guard and may prompt countermeasures.

For China, the Djibouti base represents a shift to a more dual role in its global expansion — one that focuses on economics as well as military and logistics support. “We’re going to see more of these types of facilities in other places,” said the Asia Society Policy Institute. “Some of these aren’t going to look like bases. They’re going to look like dual use, civilian sort of access facilities, where also you can get access for military vessels as well.”

China’s expansion has also garnered the attention of the U.S., which has its own base, Camp Lemonnier, in Djibouti. France and Japan also have military bases in Djibouti. The United States will be concerned about the possibility of espionage, including electronic espionage, but will likely also be very closely observing the Chinese.

US remarks

China likely will try to expand its military presence across the world with military bases in Pakistan, Djibouti and elsewhere, as it sees its role in global affairs growing, according to a report released by the Pentagon.

The annual Pentagon report on Chinese military developments says China already is expanding its presence in foreign ports as a way to “pre-position the necessary logistics support” to sustain far away from the Chinese homeland.  “China’s expanding international economic interests are increasing demands for the Chinese Navy to operate in more distant maritime environments to protect Chinese citizens, investments, and critical sea lines of communication,” the report reads.

The Pentagon believes China most likely will try to set up additional military bases in countries where it has “longstanding friendly relationships and similar strategic interests.”

The report singles out Pakistan as one of those allies potentially willing to host Chinese troops and says China already has begun construction on a military base in the small east African country Djibouti, which lies along the Gulf of Aden. The Pentagon believes construction will be completed within the next year. “This initiative, along with regular naval vessel visits to foreign ports, both reflects and amplifies China’s growing influence, extending the reach of its armed forces,” the report reads.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying blasted the report Wednesday, saying it disregarded facts and made “irresponsible remarks.” Speaking with reporters, Hua refused to comment on the potential future overseas bases, but said China is a force for safeguarding peace in Asia and “friendly cooperation [between China and Pakistan] does not target any third party.” “We hope the U.S. side will put aside the Cold War mentality, view China’s military development in an objective and rational manner, and take concrete actions to maintain steady growth of the military relationship between the two countries,” she said.

Playing the game of Asia pivot to contain China as well as Russia, America is increasingly concerned about the Chinese expansionism in Asia. It can easily understand the rules of expansionism as it guides Israel in its expansionist agenda in West Asia, especially in Palestine.

Continue Reading
Comments

Defense

Russia does not exclude nuclear war in Europe

Published

on

In these latter days the issue of the risk of nuclear escalation in a non-nuclear conflict and war by mistake is acutely on the agenda.

Obviously, strategic stability is in deep crisis. According to the report which is based on the results of a situational analysis directed by Sergei A. Karaganov and held at the Russian Foreign Ministry, “it would be a mistake to think that the new military-strategic landscape is stable. 

From author’s point of view, the main threat comes from a risk of military conflict between nuclear powers, including an unintended nuclear or non-nuclear conflict, which can subsequently escalate into a global nuclear war, with the probability of such escalation now being higher than before.
According to the report, it is clear that Russia is convinced that the U.S. has been consistently destroying its traditional architecture – the system of nuclear arms control agreements, again considering options to use nuclear weapons in a conventional conflict for winning the war, and refusing to begin serious negotiations to strengthen strategic stability.

The author is sure that this creates a vacuum in the field of nuclear weapons and lowers the threshold for their use at a time when the risk of an armed clash between nuclear powers in the current political and technological situation remains quite high.

As for Europe is concerned, the report states that more serious risks of inadvertent military clash come from the U.S.’s continues efforts to build up its military infrastructure, including missile defences and drones, in Eastern Europe, its plans to increase its low-yield nuclear weapons arsenal and put those weapons on strategic delivery systems in order to neutralize the Russian military threat. Numerous the U.S. proposals to strengthen its military presence and deployment of weapons in the territories of Poland and the Baltic States clearly indicate that the U.S. allows the possibility of a regional military conflict with Russia in Europe and is taking measures to prevent Russia from winning it by using of tactical nuclear weapons or conventionally-armed medium-range missiles.

The author consider that this is a rather dangerous tendency: for Russia, the use of tactical nuclear weapons or conventionally-armed medium-range missiles against it would mean a strategic strike and would inevitably trigger a nuclear second strike against the U.S. or those countries which deployed its nuclear weapons.

Thus, countries which are ready to deploy any kind of weapons suggested by the U.S. will turn themselves to real targets for Russia.
Nuclear war in Europe is no more a ghostly threat, but a very real one.

Continue Reading

Defense

Infectious Diseases and National Security: Who will frame National Health Security Policy of Pakistan?

Published

on

Health plays an influential role in fostering economic growth and sustainable development. Because of its indirect impact on human development, better health boosts rates of economic growth and contributes to wealth creation. In the past decades, new healthcare challenges and emerging infectious disease outbreaks have drawn global attention particularly in developing countries like Pakistan. Traditionally, health and security occupied separate domains, but in recent years the imperative fusion between health and national security has been recognized by policymakers, security and defence analysts in both developed and developing countries. The last two or three decades have seen sharp rise in non-traditional threats to national security, such as infectious diseases. There are many lines of attack that infectious diseases can intimidate national security i.e. increased rates of morbidity and mortality, massive damage on public health and health infrastructure, political instability, and economic volatility.

Emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, and their pandemic potential, pose a challenge to national security in the 21st century that cannot be overlooked. Though, the historical threat to national security by epidemic diseases is not new; the threat has increased in recent past and is growing rapidly in Pakistan. Correspondingly, reemergence of mosquito-borne infections such as dengue, chikungunya, zika, and more virulent forms of malaria and new more severe forms of viral respiratory infections have evolved. Pakistan is one of several countries, which together bear 95% of the burden of infectious diseases, and the trend is on the rise. According to statistics, Pakistan had not been able to control the burden of communicable diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, dengue fever, typhoid, hepatitis, cholera and other infectious diseases. Malaria, dengue, polio, and tuberculosis, are among the top killers. Pakistan is ranked fifth on the list of high-burden TB countries, and worst of all; Pakistan is one of the three remaining countries where poliomyelitis, also called polio, is still endemic. An average of about one million lives claimed yearly by malaria (estimated 12% of the rural population is believed to carry malaria parasites in their blood) and anticipated mortality rate of 48 thousand deaths per year as a result of TB cases. Similarly, infectious diseases are the biggest killers of children in Pakistan, causing 60% of all child deaths under 5 years of age.

At present, Pakistan is facing multiple challenges in healthcare, which can be broken down into social issues, technical constraints, lack of trained human resources, infrastructure, effective legislation and policymaking, awareness and negligence. The structure and function of the current healthcare system in Pakistan is far below international standards and ranked at 122 out of 190 countries in terms of healthcare standards. Pakistan does not have an organized healthcare system; even health priorities are not properly defined by present government (except Health-card). There is no evidence of strong political will, and inter-ministerial and inter-departmental conflicts, corruption, awful governance, and lack of correspondence are rampant to cope with national health security issues.

Epidemiologically, the behavior of epidemic is usually compared to previous outbreaks. The reemergence of Dengue virus (year-to-date, thousands of dengue cases are reported and hundreds of deaths in last few months) along with the dispersion of infectious diseases geographically throughout Pakistan demonstrate that Ministry of Health (MoH) and Ministry of Defence (MoD) are not incorporated and interconnected to address the national health security issues. Likewise, research and development (R&D) for new tools and technologies to prevent, detect and respond to emerging disease threats and outbreaks have not been considered by authorities with growing need in the country. As seen with the Dengue and Chikungunya outbreaks, there is a shortage of appropriate diagnostic equipments and vaccines to manage the response and lack of regulatory framework for fast-tracking and surveillance technology, tools and techniques when rapid respond is indispensable.

To cut a long story short, health security has become a national priority in many countries, supported by loyal and devoted leadership. They are approaching health security in a holistic manner, including, social, technical, economic, diplomatic, military and intelligence-related aspects. On the contrary, the link between infectious diseases and national security is relatively a new concept in Pakistan. A new paradigm is needed that links infectious diseases to national security and recognize the broad effects of diseases on society. Response to infectious disease threats should be strategic priority of health and security agencies in Pakistan. Ministry of Defence needs to acknowledge its role in ensuring that the state’s population is fit and healthy since there are no signs that the Ministry of Defence is awakening to this responsibility. At a time when our conception of national security is evolving rapidly, we must look hard at uncertain and non-traditional threats, specifically. Today, Pakistan is facing a wide range of threats to national health security, including disease outbreaks and pandemics. As health threats are evolving, protecting Pakistan from 21st century health security threats need a clear strategic direction and teamwork between Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Health. Of course, with uncertainty and ambiguity, a large amount of work is needed to bring analytical clarity to the national health security paradigm.

Continue Reading

Defense

India Amidst the Follies of a Winnable Nuclear War

M Waqas Jan

Published

on

As tensions between India and Pakistan simmer over the deteriorating situation in Kashmir, the ever-present specter of nuclear war continues to dominate present discourse. This has been apparent in the way both India and Pakistan have continued to leverage the threat of using nuclear weapons at each other, keeping well in mind the effects of these threats on both domestic and international audiences. Last month’s statement by India’s Defense Minister, on the reexamination of India’s No First Use (NFU) policy presents a worrying case in point. Taken in the context of the last 4-5 years however, this statement represents a growing trend in which India’s foremost leaders have come to institutionalize a policy of nuclear brinkmanship against Pakistan through increasingly bellicose rhetoric. Not to mention one of the world’s most sustained and costly military modernization programs that has been publicized as greatly expanding India’s power projection capabilities. Capabilities which in turn not only extend to India’s Western Borders but to the entire South Asian and Indian Ocean regions.

Together, both the rhetoric as well as the unprecedented defense spending are arguably aimed at projecting a more assertive and militarily capable India. An India that is fed up from playing second fiddle to a rising China, and from being limited from its true potential by a recalcitrant Pakistan. As such, this current manifestation of India is almost a farcy from what several analysts had described five years back. This was when the likes of Happymon Jacob had termed India as a ‘reluctant power’ facing a rising superpower i.e. China and a ‘revisionist power’ in Pakistan. Instead, as evident in the BJP’s nuclear brinkmanship, it is India now that is revising the status-quo in an entirely reckless and single-minded fashion. Especially during a time when both Pakistan and China have openly declared their focus to be on shared economic development at a wider regional level, what India’s incessant saber-rattling has done is essentially estrange itself further from two strategically and potentially crucial neighbors.

While a large segment of the Indian population may celebrate this new-found panache and daring which the BJP government is projecting as part of its nationalist ethos, this approach has in fact led to an unprecedented level of destabilization throughout the region. One wonders whether this ‘devil may care’ approach of the current Indian government is the kind of assertiveness and regional leadership that even moderate analysts such as the above-mentioned Mr. Jacob had argued for five years back. After all, even with respect to countering Pakistan, many in India have long called for developing closer ties with China particularly keeping in view a long-term strategic perspective. A view that is built more on regional stability and cooperation as opposed to pandering to a faux sense of supremacy.

Yet, instead of such elusive stability, what this Indian state has done is willfully stoke fears of war. All despite the fact that it is still not able to dominate Pakistan within the conventional and sub-conventional realms. At least not on the global stage where the will to project military force is equally matched by the ability to do so. This for instance was more than evident in February’s aerial engagement between the two countries following which India was left considerably bruised and shaken.

While many in Pakistan have taken this to be the successful manifestation of a viable conventional deterrent capability, it has simultaneously increased the risks of India resorting to a pre-emptive or escalatory nuclear strike as the preferred means of assuring military victory. What’s more, if Pakistani strategists are to go by the current rhetoric and signaling coming out of India, the risks of such a strike seem to stem more from a vain an entitled sense of supremacy, rather than any real measured, or calculated approach to nuclear deterrence and/or strategy. Such ensuing ambiguity and uncertainty add immensely to the already heightened risks of an accidental or even miscalculated step towards the nuclear tipping point. 

Ironically, the only option Pakistan has been left with is to signal its own intent and commitment to the counter value targeting of Indian cities. This has been emphasized in all of Pakistan’s most recent ballistic missile tests, which instead of showcasing a newly acquired capability have been carried out as training launches of what already comprise its nuclear arsenal. This includes last week’s training launch of the Ghaznavi Missile System, which stands as one of the first SRBMs inducted into service by the Pakistan military. Designed as a Scud type ballistic missile that is accurate, road mobile and capable of hypersonic speeds, this most recent test is aimed at showcasing its potency as a second-strike platform, capable of challenging even some of the most sophisticated Ballistic Missile Defense Systems currently deployed by India. In effect, a stark reminder that all Pakistan needs to do is to get a few of these off the ground to negate any advantage that a counter-force or pre-emptive strike may seem to serve India.

Hence, while the threat of Kashmir as a nuclear flashpoint remains as ominous as ever for the most densely populated region in the world, it is extremely worrying to think that either Pakistani or Indian policymakers would consider nuclear war-fighting as a viable means to victory. Whereas Pakistan’s stance on the use of nuclear weapons has been clearly stated as a means of deterring a large-scale conventional assault for the sake of regional stability, the repeated allusions to a first or pre-emptive strike by Indian policy-makers seem to be geared more at spreading fear, shock and awe amidst the general population. Of all the fears the world once had over a North Korean, Iraqi or even Irani fanatic gaining hold of an atomic weapon, it is a wonder how Indian policymakers are unabashedly getting away with playing the part of the unstable and unpredictable nuclear armed zealots of the world.

Continue Reading

Latest

Tourism52 mins ago

Kingdom of Morocco to Host Next WRO General Assembly in 2021

The Kingdom of Morocco has been officially chosen as the host of the 24th Session of the World Tourism Organization...

Defense3 hours ago

Russia does not exclude nuclear war in Europe

In these latter days the issue of the risk of nuclear escalation in a non-nuclear conflict and war by mistake...

Reports7 hours ago

East Asian and Northern European countries are world leaders on idea creation and intensity

South Korea has been named the world’s most idea-intensive nation, with the top 20 dominated by East Asian and Northern...

Defense13 hours ago

Infectious Diseases and National Security: Who will frame National Health Security Policy of Pakistan?

Health plays an influential role in fostering economic growth and sustainable development. Because of its indirect impact on human development,...

Human Rights15 hours ago

UN General Assembly celebrates 20 years of promoting a culture of peace

Just as the greatest global challenges cannot be solved by a single country, peace cannot be pursued in isolation, outgoing...

Economy17 hours ago

Stagnation or recession: What threatens the banking system of Germany and the eurozone in 2020

“One of Germany’s most acclaimed experts” in economic risk analysis, Marcus Krall, “predicts the collapse of the German banking system...

EU Politics19 hours ago

European Solidarity Corps: Three years on

Tomorrow is the third anniversary of President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union announcement to set up a European Solidarity...

Trending

Copyright © 2019 Modern Diplomacy