Beijing has now a pier in the small east African country of Djibouti that is large enough to accommodate an aircraft carrier. The Chinese-controlled naval base will allow Beijing to spread its naval power from the South China Sea into the Indian ocean and even influence the global shipping bottle-neck of the Suez canal. General Stephen Townsend, commander of the US Africa Command, speaking to the House Armed Services Committee last week said: “China has just expanded their base in Djibouti by adding a significant pier.
“The pier can support even their aircraft carriers in the future.
“Around the continent, they’re looking for other basing opportunities.”
China now has two aircraft carriers, the Liaoning, which was refurbished from a warship purchased from Ukraine, and the homegrown Shandong.
China’s third domestically developed aircraft carrier is expected to join its navy within the next few years.
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Speaking of China’s expansion into Africa US General Townsend said: “They are literally everywhere on the continent.
“They’re placing a lot of bets down.”
China’s Djibouti base is now also capable of handling the nation’s new Type 075 amphibious assault ship.
This gives China a considerable advantage in landing troops in amphibious actions.
Beijing’s new amphibious warships have large decks that can accommodate aircraft with short takeoff and vertical-landing capabilities.
These new amphibious assault ships can act as mini-aircraft carriers.
A commissioning ceremony for the first vessel in the class was held in Hainan on Friday, attended by President Xi Jinping. Beijing is expected to commission its second Type 075 ship as early as this year, and a third was launched in January.
China’s People’s Liberation Army ambition is to have multiple strike groups centred around amphibious warships in different parts of the world.
This would challenge US dominance of global sea routes.
Currently, Washington operates similar strike groups that have amphibious capabilities.
These Chinese amphibious strike groups will be used to protect president Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure projects across the globe.
China’s growing maritime expansionism has been seen as a threat to the US, Europe, and Japan