According to China’s state-run Global Times, Chinese investments in the African nation of Djibouti have increased dramatically thanks to the reassuring presence of China’s new naval base.
“When investing in a foreign country, security is always a big concern. China’s first overseas logistic base in Djibouti gives Chinese businessmen more confidence in making long-term investments,” East Africa Bank official Ahmed Mohamed Arab told the Global Times on Thursday.
“We also felt more secure and confident to do business with Chinese companies because they are well taken care of in the country,” Arab said, essentially arguing that Chinese corporate enterprises are more stable and reliable business partners because they are controlled and protected by the government.
Chinese businessmen in Djibouti said they felt more confident because the naval base can provide them with physical protection and emergency medical care. They also praised the base for providing political stability, although Djibouti has lately been seen as one of the more stable countries in that part of Africa, and it already hosts military operations from the United States, France, and Japan. The U.S. base, Camp Lemonnier, is the largest permanent American military installation in Africa.
The Global Times actually acknowledged the presence of these other bases in a quote from a Chinese professor but leaves the implication that China’s naval base is something special, at least in the eyes of Chinese investors.
The Chinese base was opened in November 2017 on the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army. Beijing insists it is merely a “logistics facility” rather than a proper military installation, although Chinese officials often describe its mission as contributing to regional stability and protecting nearby shipping lanes.
The U.S. military has expressed concerns that China pressured Djibouti into giving it permission for the naval base, and might further pressure the government into terminating American leases prematurely.