China has refuted ‘Western media reports’ on the Djibouti military base as a prejudice against Beijing and has said that the two ships carrying military personnel are solely for the purpose of anti-piracy mission.
"China's base in Djibouti has basic differences with military bases of other countries in scale, function and equipment. Compared with the specialized function of logistics support of the Chinese base, other military bases station more troops and fighters and conduct military training," Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association was quoted as saying by the Global Times Wednesday.
"Whether a country needs to build an overseas base should come out of its own concerns and it merely involves bilateral talks with the other nation. Why do some Western countries make carping comments about China's first overseas base, while they already have many?" Xu said.
Xu said that the western media should not hype the China threat theory. The two navy warships, Jinggangshan and Donghai Island semi-submersible ship left from Zhanjiang in South China's Guangdong Province on Tuesday for the support base in Djibouti.
"Jinggangshan is a Type 071 amphibious transport dock, which can load more helicopters and special troops and is more capable of dealing with pirates or maritime attacks and taking part in protective convoys," Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert who served in the Second Artillery Corps (now called the Rocket Force) of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), told the Global Times on Wednesday.
The Donghai Island can serve as a rescue vessel since it could be used to build a temporary wharf and offer assistance in repairing damaged ships during war time, Song said, adding that the ship is usually used to transfer materials and goods.
"Sending the two ships to the Djibouti base shows China's intent on anti-terrorism and anti-piracy, and in offering logistical support to fleets which have convoy missions in the Gulf of Aden," Song said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a press conference on Wednesday that China's support base in Djibouti would be beneficial for China to fulfill its international responsibilities in convoys in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia, and offering humanitarian assistance.
The PLA Daily said in a front-page commentary in October 2016 that "China would not seek military expansionism or get into an arms race no matter what happened … These promises will not change because of the construction of the overseas logistics base."
The support base could also drive local economic and social development and will be beneficial for China to make more contributions to safeguarding peace and stability in Africa and the world, Geng said.
The establishment of the PLA Djibouti base was a decision made by the two countries after friendly negotiations and accords with the common interest of the people from both sides at heart, according to the PLA navy.
Song said that any military move China makes overseas would touch a sensitive nerve in Western counties, who would overlook China's peaceful purposes and hype the China threat theory.