The recent Indian- China standoff is a few days old now. All eyes were on the G20 summit but Modi and Xi did not meet, escalating the perception of tension. Amidst all this a nationalist magazine of China praised Modi and the GST that was introduced in India. But the euphoria did not last long because just a day after that there were movements from the Chinese sea to Djibouti. Djibouti is in the north western side of Indian Ocean in the horn of Africa. It will also be the first base military base outside China. Beijing has officially announced that the base is only for logistics purposes. It will resupply the navy ships that are in the peacekeeping mission off the coasts of Somalia and Yemen
This construction of this base began last year and it was a decision made by the two countries which was in accord with the interests of the people of both countries. The main agenda of this ship stationed there is to aid the peace-keeping activities in Asia and Africa. The other programmes will be joint exercise and “maintaining security of international strategic seaways”. India is viewing this movement with suspicion. China has civilian ports in Srilanka and Pakistan. But this can accommodate Navy vessels as well. Strategically China has a point of attack south of India, on the western side and then on the northern side. India feels it a ‘ring of peals” which is not a healthy sign. However China has brushed away these concerns and has reiterated that the base in Djibouti was only for peace keeping purposes. Djibouti has been the beneficiary of China’s foreign policy. They have funded 14 projects in Djibouti which has been valued at 14.4 billion dollars and this includes a railway line form Addis Ababa to Djibouti. With India’s concerns on one side, and China’s refusal on the other, there is no real clarity. Only time will tell and for India it is always better to be alert to defend itself.