The West suspects that China’s recent arrangement with the Solomon Islands is part of the latter’s plan to develop a strong military footing in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. The United States considers the Solomon Islands to be a wake-up call. China “is thought to have approached at least five potential host countries” to anchor its military ships, according to The Economist. While the US has military stations in over 40 countries and the French and British have overseas outposts in Africa, Asia, and Europe, China only has one naval facility in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. Although China currently has one military base abroad, it has been engaging in talks with other countries in the Indian Ocean Region and the Pacific, like Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, and Thailand to name a few. However, these talks are marked with purpose because China is planning on setting its foot in the ports of these countries, in order to monitor shipping in the oceans and to keep transiting naval fleets of other countries.
China is riddled with maritime disputes with several countries sharing seas. If it decides to warn some countries or protect their trade interests, China requires to stretch its maritime resources, the best solution to which is external military bases. However, “for all China’s efforts to expand abroad, the results so far have been mixed. That is partly the result of history. America, Britain and a handful of other military powers have a global network of bases that have existed for decades and are mostly legacies of empire, the second world war and the cold war. China has started from scratch, and establishing even a small new base abroad is costly and time-consuming.”
Media reports have claimed that these ports actually act as a medium “for refuelling, replenishing supplies and repairing ships in peacetime” but they are also facilities where uniformed personnel, weapons, and equipment can be stored. Further, the report, mentioning the actions of China, states that “in the past three years alone, it has signed a secret deal to use a Cambodian navy base, tried to negotiate its own naval outpost in Equatorial Guinea and secretly begun building a military facility inside a Chinese-run port in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), say American officials”. Reportedly, China’s main motto is to drive away from the United States, paving the way for China’s naval fleet to sway smoothly over the Indo-Pacific, reported The Hong Kong Post. In addition, China also requires a navy that can defend its abroad investments, shipping routes, and those citizens who reside or work overseas.
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