Satellite photos reveal underground construction at Chinese military base

Courtesy of Stratfor Worldview | AllSource Analysis

Satellite images provided by Stratfor Worldview and AllSource Analysis show details of the new Chinese military base in the African country of Djibouti.

Highlights of history

The base is China’s first permanent military installation abroad

It has nearly 250,000 square feet of underground space

Hong Kong

New satellite images of China’s first overseas military base reveal it’s bigger and safer than previously thought.

Two images provided by Stratfor Worldview and Allsource Analysis show that the Djibouti base, located at a strategic choke point in the Horn of Africa, is heavily fortified with three layers of security and is approximately 23,000 square meters (approximately 250 square meters). 000 square feet) of basement. space, according to the analysis provided by Stratfor.

“This type of construction conforms to known Chinese practices for hardening their military bases. The underground structures allow unobserved activity and offer protection to vehicles or facilities essential to the Chinese mission in Djibouti, ”Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence firm, said in an analysis accompanying the images.

China sent troops to the base earlier this month. The United States, France and Japan also have permanent military bases there, but Tack said these are not as heavily fortified.

The size of the Chinese base is unclear, but for comparison, the US base was expanded to 500 acres in 2007.

“Even though it is only one of those bases in Djibouti like several other countries, China has adopted its own methods in Djibouti,” Sim Tack, senior analyst at Stratfor, told CNN.

Courtesy of Stratfor Worldview | AllSource Analysis

The Chinese Defense Ministry touted the base as a way for the People’s Liberation Army to help restore peace and security to the region by providing a means to conduct anti-piracy operations and humanitarian aid. .

However, an image from July 4 showed that the Chinese had yet to start building docks, which Stratfor said was notable due to the aforementioned purpose of the bases.

“I wouldn’t say it’s irregular, but I would have expected to see a dock,” Tack said.

A wharf will likely be built eventually and China could use Djibouti’s commercial port until then, according to Stratfor.

Analysts say the base is part of China’s efforts to establish a truly global naval force capable of operating around the world – a so-called “blue water navy” – although Chinese state media rejected suggestions that Beijing will flex its muscles. at the World level.

“One of the big marks of a superpower is having a blue water capacity, and China is in the awkward position where it sees itself as a superpower, other countries see it as a superpower, but it doesn’t really have the full capacity of a superpower right now, ”Yvonne Chiu, assistant professor in the University of Hong Kong’s policy department, recently told CNN.

But the construction of the base also indicates that it will be used for purposes other than naval purposes, according to the analysis.

It has a tarmac and hangars appear large enough to house various types of helicopters, but not fixed-wing planes like drones or fighter jets. These additions will allow the base to also have air capabilities.

Bonny J. Streater

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