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U.S. Army Gen. Townsend warns China desires ‘network of bases around the globe’

A May 2020 image of China’s base in Djibouti, showing a new pier that can accommodate aircraft carriers.
FPI / May 7, 2021

By Richard Fisher

China’s power projection ambitions include “a network of bases around the globe…[including] the Atlantic coast of Africa,” said United States Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, Commander, United States Africa Command (AFRICOM).

The warning was given before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 22.

Responding to a question from Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) General Townsend stated:

“So we know that the Chinese desire a network of bases around the globe. How that plays out in Africa is first with their base Doral (ph) in Djibouti. They have been working a number of options to get a base elsewhere in Africa; Tanzania primarily on the east coast, the Indian Ocean. And then they've placed a number of bets down along the Atlantic coast. My concern is the greatest along the Atlantic coast of Africa…

“This is probably — this is the most significant threat, I think, from China would be to gain a militarily useful naval facility on the Atlantic coast of Africa. And by militarily useful I mean something more than a place that they can make port calls and get gas and groceries. I'm talking about a port where they can rearm with munitions and repair naval vessels.”

China’s African base-building has started in Djibouti, where since 2015 it has been building a naval and ground force facility in what is called Doraleh Base.

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