January 05, 2018

Chinese confirm military base in Gwadar

http://thebalochistanpost.com/2018/01/chinese-confirm-military-base-gwadar/


January 5, 2018

Beijing plans to build its second offshore naval base near strategically important Gwadar port following the opening of its first facility in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa last year.

While talking to South China Morning Post, Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming said the base near the Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea would be used to dock and maintain naval vessels, as well as provide other logistical support services.

“China needs to set up another base in Gwadar for its warships because Gwadar is now a civilian port,” Zhou said.

“It’s a common practice to have separate facilities for warships and merchant vessels because of their different operations. Merchant ships need a bigger port with a lot of space for warehouses and containers, but warships need a full range of maintenance and logistical support services.”

Another source close to the People’s Liberation Army confirmed with the news outlet that the navy would set up a base near Gwadar similar to the one already up and running in Djibouti.

“Gwadar port can’t provide specific services for warships … Public order there is in a mess. It is not a good place to carry out military logistical support,” the source said.

The confirmation follows a report this week on Washington-based website The Daily Caller in which retired US Army Reserve colonel Lawrence Sellin said meetings between high-ranking Chinese and Pakistani military officers indicated Beijing would build a military base on the Jiwani peninsula near Gwadar and close to the Iranian border.

Sellin said the plan would include a naval base and an expansion of the existing airport on the peninsula, both requiring the establishment of a security zone and the forced relocation of long-time residents.

Gwadar port is a key part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a centrepiece of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s broader “Belt and Road Initiative” to link China through trade and infrastructure to Africa and Europe and beyond. The corridor is a multibillion-dollar set of infrastructure projects linking China and Pakistan, and includes a series of road and transport links.

Sellin also said the Jiwani base could be “signs of Chinese militarisation of Pakistan, in particular, and in the Indian Ocean”.

Chinese military observers said Gwadar had great geostrategic and military importance to China but China was not about to “militarise” Pakistan.

Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy, a research associate at the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, said India was well aware of China’s plans in Pakistan.

“China finds it very useful to use Pakistan against India and ignore India’s concerns, particularly on terrorism issues. That has created a lot of stress in the relationship between Beijing and Delhi,” he said.

Chinese troops stage live-fire drills in Djibouti, the site of China’s first offshore base.

China began building what it describes as a 36-hectare logistics base in Djibouti in 2016, with its first naval troops arriving in July last year. The troops have staged regular live-fire drills since September, a move military analysts say is meant to show China’s ability to protect its overseas interests in Africa and the Indian Ocean region

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