China’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that it had “not heard” of any plans for other bases around the world after Djibouti, where China is building its first overseas naval base.
In February, China began construction in Djibouti, strategically located in the Horn of Africa, of a logistics base that will resupply naval vessels taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia in particular.
Fan Changlong, a vice chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission, visited Djibouti earlier this month.
There has been persistent speculation in diplomatic circles that China will build other such bases, but Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun dismissed that.
“As for what you’ve said about whether China will build logistics supply facilities in other places, I’ve not heard any news about this,” he told a monthly news conference, without elaborating.
Djibouti, which is about the size of Wales, is located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal. The tiny, barren nation sandwiched between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, also hosts U.S., Japanese and French bases.
Djibouti’s position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fueled worries in India that it would become another of China’s “string of pearls” of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
Yang said construction of the Djibouti base was proceeding smoothly, defending the facility as being needed to help fulfill China’s international obligations and having nothing to do with military expansionism.
“China is resolute in going down the path of peaceful development and having a defensive defense policy,” he added.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)