First Chinese troops head to Djibouti military base


A summary of the top news in Chinese politics and current affairs for July 12, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

Taiwan's Ministry of Health and Welfare's, Office of International Cooperation director, Hsu Ming-hui (R), talks during a news conference on how Taiwan would react if it is not invited to the World Health Assembly (WHA), in Taipei, Taiwan May 8, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

China’s state media on June 12 featured news that Chinese troops were deployed for the first time to an overseas navy base in Djibouti — see, for example, Xinhua coverage in English and Chinese. The base, China’s first overseas military facility, has been under construction in the Horn of Africa for more than a year, yet military officials have not yet publicly announced a timeline for its operations to formally begin, Reuters notes.

What’s next?

  • China’s navy is set to gain prominence and power — this will stem from an upgrade in personnel and support to overseas missions even as the People’s Liberation Army gets trimmed down to less than 1 million troops for the first time in its history.
  • Many international observers, including Pakistani diplomats and U.S. military analysts, expect that China will soon establish more overseas military bases, with Pakistan being the most likely location for another one. The Chinese government has dismissed these reports.