“International Herald Leader”, a Chinese state-run newspaper publishes a commentary to advise PLA Navy to build oversea naval bases to protect its energy line in Indian Ocean area.
The article forecasts 18 possible overseas bases of PLA Navy, including Chongjin Port (North Korea), Moresby Port (Papua New Guinea), Sihanoukville Port (Cambodia), Koh Lanta Port (Thailand), Sittwe Port (Myanmar), DHAKA Port (Bangladesh), Gwadar Port (Pakistan), Hambantota Port (Sri Lanka), Maldives, Seychelles, Djibouti Port (Djibouti), Lagos Port (Nigeria), Mombasa Port (Kenya), Dar es Salaam Port (Tanzania), Luanda Port (Angola) and Walvis Bay Port (Namibia).
Chinese navy to build oversea bases is not a new topic. Couple years ago, news reported that Pakistan has requested China to build its first oversea naval base; Seychelles has proposed the same request as well. Recently, even a rumor has a saying about that Iran would like to provide a small island to China for building an oversea naval base. No matter if it’s true or not, all of these news are a sign of Chinese naval force’s growth, and show that China to build overseas naval bases is becoming a more serious worldwide talk.
China is the second largest economy in the world, and one of the fastest growing economies. Its development is largely relying on importing oversea energy and resources. Most of its oil and gas imports come from Middle East and East Africa (except Russia and Central Asia). And China’s most oversea mineral resources purchase is from Africa, Australia and Brazil. Among all these countries, except Australia and Brazil are on the “East Route”, the rest countries are all on the “West Route”. The “West Route” can be seen as China’s energy line, which is in Indian Ocean area, especially in Strait of Malacca. That’s why we can see 16 of the possible overseas naval bases are all on the “West Route”. Also, China’s growing global economic interests also need China to build a reliable naval force.
China has been to avoid the establishment of naval bases abroad is largely due to the legacy of its long-term foreign policy, non-interference in internal affairs of others and non-aligned foreign policy, especially the principle of no overseas military bases. However, this declaration has become less high profile in recent years. . In last year’s 18th CCP National Congress, former leader of China, Hu urged to build strong national defense and powerful armed forces that are commensurate with China’s international standing and meet the needs of its security and development interests. This actually provides the legitimacy for China to build an overseas naval presence. Another realistic reason is that Chinese naval force is still weak. PLA still doesn’t have the ability and capability to build military bases abroad. But as China’s first aircraft carrier - Liaoning’s service in PLA Navy, the Chinese navy has already officially started its journey in blue water.
In fact, there is no reason to doubt that China intends to create a world network of military bases, so that the PLA have the ability to support China’s growing global interests. Even Japan has built its first overseas naval base already. And PLA achieves global presence is also a necessary step of China’s road to rise. PLA Navy to build overseas naval bases is just a time issue.