Friday, April 10, 2015

The Maritime Silk Road and the PLA PART ONE & PART TWO AND Chinese Takeaway: Yemen Evacuation


  Chinese Takeaway: Yemen Evacuation
   The Maritime Silk Road and the PLA  

               PART ONE & PART TWO 

Ads by Google

india, China, Yemen
For both China and India, which have significant populations living beyond borders, extricating compatriots from zones of conflict or natural disasters has become a recurring challenge.

                                                                                                     C Raja Mohan |

April 7, 2015

While India continues to evacuate its citizens from Yemen, China was quick to complete its operation last week. China had barely 600 people in Yemen to rescue. India had nearly 4,000 citizens in Yemen when the evacuation began last week amid the escalation of the conflict.

For both China and India, which have significant populations living beyond borders, extricating compatriots from zones of conflict or natural disasters has become a recurring challenge. Between 2006 and 2010, Beijing rescued nearly 6,000 citizens from troubled regions. In 2011 alone, China had to evacuate 48,000 citizens, most of them from Libya.

India had pulled out nearly 17,000 people from Libya in 2011. Since the NDA government came to power last summer, New Delhi has had to deal with similar situations in Iraq, Ukraine and now Yemen. Both Beijing and Delhi are under political pressure from below to act decisively and spare no expense in bringing their people back home. Beijing and Delhi have regularly tasked their armed forces with evacuation operations in different parts of the world.

The storylines in China and India begin to diverge somewhat from here.

In Beijing, the political leadership has begun to affirm that China’s national interests go beyond the borders and securing them is a top priority. Prime Minister Li Keqiang summed up the new dynamic last year: “As China becomes more open, the number of Chinese companies and citizens overseas is increasing.” Safeguarding the “legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and citizens,” Li added, is a major political priority for the party and government.

China’s defence establishment is translating this political commitment into appropriate policies and institutional capabilities. In Delhi, the political leaders turn to the armed forces as the instrument of first resort in coping with crises involving Indian citizens abroad. But there has been no matching effort to frame the issue in strategic terms.

Overseas Interests

In the biennial defence white paper issued by China in 2013, Beijing introduced a new section that reviewed China’s interests beyond borders. “With the gradual integration of China’s economy into the world economic system,” it declared, “overseas interests have become an integral component of China’s national interests.”

“Security issues are increasingly prominent, involving overseas energy and resources, strategic sea lines of communication (SLOCs), and Chinese nationals and legal persons overseas,” the white paper said. Defending these interests, according to the white paper, is one of the new historic missions of the People’s Liberation Army.

In India, Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh often declared that India’s security perimeter runs from the Suez to the South China Sea.

But the civilian leadership in the ministry of defence  (पब्लिक  को यह  बताय के  रक्षा  मंत्रालय  में  वह कौन से बाबू   है  जो  नेता  क़ी  उपाधि  में  हे) has been loath to make the necessary institutional changes or provide the political guidance and necessary resources to the armed forces.

Expeditionary Forces

As the demand for deploying the PLA beyond the nation’s borders grows, China’s strategic discourse has begun to evolve rapidly in the last few years. China’s defence debates are no longer constrained by old political inhibitions. China has long had a small marine contingent that was focused on military crises involving Taiwan. Beijing today sees a larger role for its marine brigades in its military strategy. While the PLA marines will have a critical role in asserting China’s expansive territorial claims in the South and East China Seas, Beijing has begun to occasionally deploy some units in the Indian Ocean.

China’s defence community is also debating the merits and problems of acquiring foreign military bases. While the need for timely military responses makes bases attractive, the political complications they generate can be rather difficult to deal with. China is also reviewing its traditional doctrine of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries. Beijing is now taking a greater interest in resolving conflicts in regions of vital interest.

China has steadily expanded its participation in international peacekeeping operations. Since 2008, the Chinese navy has been deployed in the Gulf of Aden for counter-piracy operations. Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief have become major priorities for the PLA.

Beijing’s expansive defence diplomacy presents China as a good international citizen and a responsible power. It helps ease some of the concerns about China’s growing military power. Above all, the frequent deployment of the armed forces beyond borders generates valuable experience for the PLA in developing its expeditionary capabilities and familiarity with distant theatres.

Although India has had a longer and more impressive record of deploying its military for securing international public goods, there has been little appreciation of its strategic significance within the civilian bureaucracy and the political leadership of the defence ministry. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who articulated a more ambitious policy towards the Indian Ocean during his “Sagar Yatra” last month, will hopefully find ways to bring India’s military and strategic policies in line with its growing interests beyond borders.

The writer is a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation and a contributing editor for ‘The Indian Express’

                                   Part One:

        The Maritime Silk Road and the PLA

Publication: China Brief Volume: 15 Issue: 6
March 19, 2015 05:33 PM
Age: 18 days
China Brief, Home Page, Military/Security, Foreign Policy, Energy, China and the Asia-Pacific, China, Southeast Asia, South China Sea, India 

Liu Cigui, director of the State Oceanic Administration, who wrote an article on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

The past decade has seen a considerable amount of speculation concerning China’s military intentions in the Indian Ocean (and overseas generally), revolving in large part around the “String of Pearls” concept (namely, a possible network of future Chinese naval and military installations stretching across the Indian Ocean). While this speculation has, occasionally, been ill-informed, even verging on the feverish, with some Western observers foreseeing a veritable Chinese invasion of the Indian Ocean, it is nonetheless clear that China has a real interest in an increased military presence and activities along the sea lanes vital to the Chinese economy.

Chinese president Xi Jinping’s fall 2013 announcement of the new “one belt, one road” (yilu yidai) strategic initiative, based on the concept of the ancient Silk Road caravan route, has only served to further fuel such speculation. This is particularly true of the initiative’s maritime component, generally referred to as the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” (21 shiji haishang sichou zhilu) and comprising a maritime trade and transportation route reaching though the South China Sea and Indian Ocean to the eastern Mediterranean, encompassing South and Southeast Asia, East Africa, as well as the Near and Middle East.

The Maritime Silk Road makes it unmistakably clear that China’s strategic interests in and along the maritime routes leading to the west (as well as the number and vulnerability of Chinese citizens working in the adjacent countries) will only increase in coming years.

The vital issue, then, is the degree to which China’s increasing economic activity along these sea lanes will translate into increased military activity and what form any increased military presence might take, especially in terms of permanent installations and support bases. This entails assessing both China’s motivations for an increased military presence along the Maritime Silk Road as well as the various constraints Beijing will face in expanding that military presence.

 This two-part article will make the argument that in the decade ahead China will likely develop an increased military presence primarily along the Indian Ocean portions of the Maritime Silk Road, but that Beijing will do so relatively slowly and that it will likely not develop explicitly military facilities to support this presence, remaining content to rely upon commercial ports.

       [1] China will, however, likely continue existing efforts to     involve Chinese state-owned enterprises in the     development and operation of major commercial port facilities in the region west of Singapore in order to ensure ease of access to port and replenishment facilities for Chinese naval vessels operating along the Maritime Silk Road.

      [2] Furthermore, should this contention regarding the development of explicitly military facilities fail to materialize, then such facilities would most likely appear first in East Africa, where China has the greatest freedom of action and room for maneuver in diplomatic and strategic terms.

Go West, Young Man

The Maritime Silk Road already represents China’s most vital sea lines of communication, both because it gives China access to three major economic zones (Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Middle East) and because it is the route for many of China’s strategic materials, including oil, iron ore and copper ore imports. Moreover, active efforts to develop strategic and economic relationships along the Maritime Silk Road afford an opportunity (in the Chinese view) to escape the growing containment and encirclement embodied by the U.S. “pivot to Asia.” Indeed, some Chinese military authors have gone so far as to call the route of the Maritime Silk Road “the crucial strategic direction of China’s rise” (zhongguo jueqi de guanjian zhanlue fangxiang), indicating a belief that developing the route will be critical to the country’s entire development program (National Defense Reference, February 11). Language such as this could easily lead Western analysts to believe that China would wish to quickly ensure control of these sea lanes, yet the realization that such an objective could only be achieved by a navy several times the size of the current People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)—the development and construction of which would be itself a vastly expensive undertaking that would not come to pass for some decades (if ever)—should give us pause. [3] If we are to take Chinese leaders at their word when they say that China is still a developing country and indicate that there is no perpetual blank check for military development, then it seems that actual sea control along the Maritime Silk Road is not in the cards for China. 

And, indeed, it would appear that China’s existing and future military activities west of Singapore are not being cast in this light, but rather one of sea lane security and ensuring the sea lanes’ continued utility as a global commons. Chinese analysts point out that small-scale, low-intensity action will be typical of the use of naval force in the years ahead, and that when China uses force along the Maritime Silk Route, it will often occur on short notice, be focused on low-grade threats (including terrorism, piracy, drug smuggling and other transnational crime), and be multilateral in nature. While involvement in interstate conflict is certainly possible, it is considered unlikely (Sina Military, December 9, 2014). Put more bluntly, and according to a fellow of the PLA’s Academy of Military Science, “China has only two purposes in the Indian Ocean: economic gains and the security of sea lines of communication” (China-US Focus, February 11, 2014). The objectives that China and the PLA seek to achieve along the Maritime Silk Road are perhaps most succinctly summarized by a statement from a Chinese merchant mariner whose ship received medical aid from PLAN vessels in the Gulf of Aden, as described in the PLAN’s official newspaper:  “No matter where we are, so long as our warships are there, we have a feeling of security!” [4]

Given this emphasis, then, on security (as opposed to control) and on combating low-grade threats, it is clear that large, fully-capable combat support bases such as those the U.S. Navy boasts in many parts of the world, would be grossly excessive to the PLA’s needs along the Maritime Silk Road. Nonetheless, as other analysts have pointed out, we cannot necessarily expect China to continue to rely solely on local commercial facilities contracted by in-country military attachés and the Ministry of Transport on an ad hoc basis, especially as military operations along the Maritime Silk Road expand beyond their existing low benchmark. [5] At the same time, and as has been noted by Western analysts for some time (and has been more recently stated plainly by Chinese analysts), Chinese interest lies mainly in access to necessary military support facilities rather than possessing outright such facilities themselves (China-US Focus, February 11, 2014). [6] Thus we can expect any development of physical facilities along the Maritime Silk Road to be relatively limited in nature, but there almost certainly will be development of some kind. That this will be the case is made clear in Chinese writings that describe “infrastructure connectivity” (jichu sheshi hulian hutong) as a key element of the Maritime Silk Road, including a lengthy essay published in July 2014 by Liu Cigui, director of the State Oceanic Administration. In the essay, Liu states that: “Sea lane security is critical to sustaining the stable development of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, while port facilities are the foundation of sea lane security,” and that China must therefore help to establish “sea posts” (haishang yizhan) that can support and resupply the ships traveling (and securing) the sea lanes. Liu goes on to state that such “sea posts” could be newly-built, either by individual countries or with the help of China, or that China could lease (zuyong) existing facilities. [7]

Coming from such an official source, these statements appear to confirm the limited nature of Chinese military support facilities along the Maritime Silk Road in the decade ahead. Nonetheless, other semi-official sources would seem to indicate that other streams of thought certainly exist within official discourses. Typical of these are the contentions of National Defense University professor and strategist Liang Fang (also cited earlier), that a military presence along the Maritime Silk Road must serve to deter any potential enemy and that, ultimately, sea lane security can only be assured by carrier battle groups on station (National Defense Reference, February 11). While this line of thinking likely represents only a maximalist view of the PLA’s mission, probably influenced by the desire of some within the PLAN for a mission to justify a large multi-carrier fleet, it nonetheless must be taken into consideration as future strategic and budgetary debates take place within the Chinese military and civilian leadership, with the potential to change China’s calculus vis-à-vis a military presence along the Maritime Silk Road. Nonetheless, the more limited view discussed above likely prevails at present, and will likely continue to do so during the next decade, especially as it would take at least that long to build and develop the sort of force necessary to make the maximalist view a reality.

Thus, it is apparent that China has real motivations for an expanded military presence in the Indian Ocean, but these motivations are not unlimited in nature. Moreover, they will be balanced by a number of practical and strategic constraints that will serve to dictate a slow pace of growth in such a military presence. An examination of these constraints, as well as a more detailed analysis of what they portend for the PLA in the Indian Ocean, will be the focus of the second half of this article, forthcoming in the next issue.

This is the first part of a two-part series of articles examining the Chinese military’s thinking on the New Silk Road.

Part Two will detail the constraints China will face in expanding that presence, while also explaining more thoroughly the prediction made above.

  1. It is unlikely that the Chinese would feel an immediate need for a significant naval or military presence in the Mediterranean as the more immediate threats to Chinese investments and lives, among other things, exist east of the Suez Canal.
  2. Though the Maritime Silk Road does encompass the South Chinese Sea, military bases and operations east of Singapore are not considered in this analysis since, in the Chinese view, they are not being built on foreign territory or being undertaken in foreign waters.
  3. “Control” here meaning the ability to monopolize the sea lanes and prevent any other power from interfering with traffic along them.
  4. [With the Motherland’s warships there, we have a sense of security], [Renmin Haijun], January 7, 2015.
  5. Christopher D. Yung, et al., “Not an Idea We Have to Shun”: Chinese Overseas Basing Requirements in the 21st Century, (Washington: National Defense University Press, November 2014); Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, No Substitute for Experience: Chinese Antipiracy Operations in the Gulf of Aden, (Newport: Naval War College Press, November 2013), pp. 51; 124–127.
  6. Daniel J. Kostecka, “Places and Bases: The Chinese Navy's Emerging Support Network in the Indian Ocean,” Naval War College Review (Winter 2011), Vol. 64, No. 1.
  7. [Liu Cigui], [Developing maritime cooperative partnerships: Reflections on building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road], [International Studies], 2014 No. 4.

                          Part Two
The Maritime Silk Road and the PLA

Publication: China Brief Volume: 15 Issue: 7
April 3, 2015 03:43 PM Age: 3 days
Category: China Brief, Home Page, Foreign Policy, Military/Security, China and the Asia-Pacific, China, South China Sea, Africa 

A PLA Navy vessel. (Credit: Xinhua)

In the previous issue, the first part of this article examined the various strategic and other motivations behind China’s desire for an increased military presence west of Singapore (see China Brief, March 19). Having laid out China’s basic purpose in building up a military presence and supporting bases along the Maritime Silk Road, it is incumbent to assess exactly what constraints China will face in achieving these objectives. This conclusion will examine these constraints and make broad predictions for the future.

Constraints on China’s Military Presence West of Singapore

The first set of constraints (and perhaps the most critical) is that which Chinese leaders place upon themselves. As many analysts have noted, China’s leaders have long made avoiding involvement in other countries’ affairs a key rhetorical and practical plank of their foreign policy, a plank that remains largely intact and would, at the very least, be complicated by efforts to obtain and maintain military facilities in countries lying along the Maritime Silk Road. [1] Moreover, the Chinese have generally shown that while they may be a revisionist power, they are not radically so, preferring to gradually, progressively and incrementally change the existing geopolitical order to more suit their own ends. Beyond this, they cannot help but be aware of the potential for conflict with India incumbent upon any rapid or forceful military expansion into the region, which would be almost certain to exacerbate the presently mild degree of strategic competition between the two (China News, February 12). A similar consideration would also have to be paid to the United States, which would certainly not sit diplomatically or politically idle as Chinese bases were built in the Indian Ocean or Middle East.

Beyond these self-imposed constraints, there must also be taken into account the possible (even likely) reluctance of states along the Maritime Silk Road to host any explicitly military facilities. As other Western analysts have pointed out, for more than a decade, leaders from a whole host of states have directly, forcefully and repeatedly denied any intention to allow China to build military facilities on their territory. And indeed, if China ever did have a strategic initiative along the lines of the “String of Pearls,” then it would certainly have to be considered an abject failure, having produced no real accomplishments in the past decade. [2] For its part, the Chinese government is certainly aware that most of the states in question are post-colonial in nature and, therefore, often prickly on points of national sovereignty and foreign intrusion (military or otherwise) (China News, February 12). Of course, China does have tools to overcome such resistance, especially in the form of its generous economic largesse and developmental aid, but it is still entirely possible that states in the region could closely cooperate with China in economic and transportation matters while still looking elsewhere (to the United States and India, among others) for cooperation on security affairs (The Diplomat, January 30).

A final constraint is imposed by the United States and, to a lesser extent, other powers by virtue of their own existing military presence in the region. Other Western analysts have noted that during the course of the approximately 20 People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) escort task forces dispatched to the Gulf of Aden since 2008, several ports (Aden, Djibouti and Salalah) have stood out as being most often used by those task forces for resupply and replenishment, implying that these ports would be the most likely locations for the PLAN to develop some sort of fixed support infrastructure in the region. [4] While this is likely the case, it should also be noted that those particular ports are the ones most commonly used by U.S. and other naval vessels in the region, making the development of explicitly military support facilities on the part of the Chinese practically inconceivable. [5] None of this is to say that China will not develop facilities at these (or other) locations to support and sustain PLA forces in the region, but rather that these facilities will likely not themselves be military in nature.

What to Expect in the Decade Ahead

In their recent detailed report on the issue of future Chinese overseas basing, Christopher Yung and other researchers from the U.S. National Defense University lay out six possible models from which the Chinese might choose, ranging from their existing dependence on ad hoc arrangements at local commercial facilities to a full-scale American-style network of combat support bases. In their analysis, Yung and his colleagues particularly point to what they call the “Dual-use Logistics Facility” model as that most likely to be adopted by the Chinese if they do not intend to engage in any sort of large-scale combat operations in the Indian Ocean. Under this model, a Chinese base in the region would provide “medical facilities, refrigerated storage space for fresh vegetables and fruit, rest and recreation sites, a communications station, and ship repair facilities to perform minor to intermediate repair and maintenance.” Such bases would be small and likely dispose of only 100 to 200 personnel. [6] This analysis is sound, as the “Dual-use” model most evenly balances the objectives, constraints, and capabilities discussed above.

One reasonable (and minor) divergence from this conclusion, however, would be the possibility that such a base would not necessarily be explicitly military in nature, especially early on.

The fact that the PLAN uses the term “yizhan”—which in Chinese connotes the old-fashioned posting stations at which official couriers and mail carriers would once have changed to fresh horses in mid-journey—to describe the “sea posts” discussed earlier likely indicates the very limited purpose for the “sea posts.” [7] It is also potentially indicative of the degree to which the PLAN may be able to “piggy-back” on a network of Chinese-run overseas commercial port facilities, such as those built, developed and operated by the state-owned Chinese Overseas Shipping Corporation (COSCO). [8] It is in this context that China’s investment and development largesse could be best put to use, by first ensuring that there are commercial ports in the region that fit their requirements and secondly by ensuring that employees of Chinese state-owned enterprises (functionally equivalent to state officials, at least for our purposes) are directly involved in the day-to-day management of those facilities and thereby well-positioned to assure Chinese military access to the facilities on a more consistent and reliable basis. While this would perhaps represent a marginally less certain degree of access than if the facilities were explicitly military in nature, it would likely be balanced by the somewhat less fraught (and provocative) effort to obtain commercial port management rights, as opposed to even limited military basing rights. [9]

Based on both the basic objectives and general constraints discussed here and in Part One, it would seem reasonable to predict that in the next decade China’s military presence west of Singapore will expand, but only to the degree necessary to successfully carry-out the general sea lane protection missions currently envisaged. The facilities to support these forces and missions will be concomitantly limited in size and will likely not even be explicitly military in nature. Or, looked at from the opposite direction, China’s military presence west of Singapore cannot expand without a proportionate expansion in the infrastructure available to support it, and given the constraints discussed above, we can expect such an infrastructure expansion to happen only slowly, thereby dictating a gradually expanding military presence in general.

The one geographic area in which there is, perhaps, a lower probability of this prediction holding true is East Africa. The past decade has seen China slowly but steadily building-up a strategic and economic presence in places such as Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Madagascar and the Seychelles, and this region has yet to become the focus of a permanent, large-scale U.S. military presence or particularly strong American strategic relationships. [10] Thus, East Africa is perhaps the portion of the Maritime Silk Road along which China presently has the greatest degree of strategic freedom of action, being not yet constrained by an overwhelming degree of U.S. activity.

Moreover, considering both the longstanding diplomatic (and even military) links China has with various East African states, as well as those states’ notable poverty (even in comparison to other states along the Maritime Silk Road), it would be likely that China would receive the best “bang for the buck” when using investment and development as tools for obtaining access to facilities. Thus, if China were to develop explicitly military bases for supporting forces anywhere along the Maritime Silk Route, then it would most likely be in East Africa, where there is the least probability of tension or confrontation (at least at present) with the United States, India or other regional powers (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, January 9, 2014; Defense Web [South Africa], November 18, 2014).

Looking Beyond 2025

As stated at the beginning, the present analysis is limited in scope to the decade ahead, but it is nonetheless pertinent to discuss at least briefly those factors that will influence China’s attitude toward overseas basing and military operations after that timeframe has passed. Making predictions beyond this point would be an exercise in futility, dependent upon a number of currently unknowable variables. First and foremost among these will be Chinese motivations, namely the Chinese leadership’s own perception of whether overseas bases and operations have been worth the political, diplomatic and fiscal expense involved. If so, then they will likely seek to expand them both geographically and quantitatively; if not, then we could expect to see retrenchment (or at least no further expansion). Next, assuming that China’s leaders continue to see net utility in overseas bases and operations, there would be the question of the country’s capability to sustain and expand them. Ultimately the maintenance of military power overseas is dependent upon basic, long-term economic vitality at home, and the decade ahead will almost certainly be critical in determining whether or not China’s historically rapid economic development can continue on a more sustainable path. Thus, the question of whether China will be able to continue expanding the military’s overseas presence in a decade’s time will depend in large part upon domestic policy decisions Chinese leaders will make between now and then. A final factor to consider is the actions of other major powers in the region, especially the United States and India. As noted previously, China will not spend the next ten years operating in a vacuum, and Chinese actions will almost certainly engender significant political, diplomatic and economic responses on the part of other powers. For instance, should the United States or India (or both) come to view any significant Chinese military presence west of Singapore as a serious problem, could very easily engage in a calculated policy to develop key ports and form strategic relationships with the key states in the region in order to limit Chinese opportunities to do so. [11] If such an eventuality came to pass, then in ten years’ time China’s leaders could well find themselves both willing and able to expand their military presence overseas, but without the necessary openings and opportunities.


As a final coda, it would be useful to emphasize that there is very little inevitability concerning the expansion of China’s military presence along the Maritime Silk Road. For any nation, obtaining actual military bases overseas is an expensive, time-consuming, politically and diplomatically fraught process involving real costs and risks. It may be easy for the United States to, today, look upon its own vast global network of well-developed military bases and think of them as just a part of the natural geopolitical order, but they are not. They are in fact the product (or perhaps the fruits) of abnormal conditions. Most of the major foreign military bases currently utilized by the United States were first obtained during a period of intense and near-permanent national mobilization, from approximately 1940 through the early 1970s. Facing grave existential threats during the Second World War and the first decades of the Cold War, the enormous political and fiscal costs associated with overseas bases were discounted, while the powers most likely to view such expansion as potentially threatening under normal circumstances (namely, Britain and France) were forced into acquiescence by dint of circumstance (namely the fact that they were U.S. allies). Thus, while U.S. overseas bases and military presence were not developed on the cheap, they did largely come into being by virtue of extremely favorable domestic and international political conditions. It should be always borne in mind that China does not currently benefit from such conditions (or anything even approaching them) and almost certainly will not in the decade ahead, barring some radical and unpredictable change in current international conditions. Thus, while China will likely seek an expanded military presence west of Singapore, the sheer number of strategic, political, and other potential obstacles is such that, over the course of the next decade, any expansion will certainly take place slowly and be qualitatively limited in nature.

This is the second part of a two-part series of articles examining the Chinese military’s thinking on the New Silk Road. Part One, published in China Brief Vol. 15, Iss. 6, addressed Chinese views and some predictions about how the PLA might approach the initiative over the next ten years.

  1. Daniel J. Kostecka, “Places and Bases: The Chinese Navy’s Emerging Support Network in the Indian Ocean,” Naval War College Review (Winter 2011), Vol. 64, No. 1.
  2. Christopher D. Yung, et al., “Not an Idea We Have to Shun”: Chinese Overseas Basing Requirements in the 21st Century, (Washington: National Defense University Press, November 2014), p. 27.
  3. Most recently, a change in government precipitated by a January 2015 presidential election in Sri Lanka appeared to derail (or at least complicate and make less certain) various Chinese efforts to develop port facilities in that country, and also threatened to prevent a repeat of the 2014 port call by a PLAN submarine (The Economic Times, March 5).
  4. Yung, et al., p.30–31.
  5. Djibouti actually hosts Franco-American military forces while Aden has long been a replenishing point for Western naval forces operating in the region. Even Salalah regularly hosts American naval vessels and has become the focus of American efforts to develop its port facilities (Mina Group, January 28, 2014; Times of Oman, February 4, 2014).
  6. Yung, et al., p.14, 43.
  7. Of course, the further fact that the term has also been applied to the plainly military facilities being built in disputed areas of the South China Sea does complicate this assertion, but it is reasonable to view the use of the term in the west of Singapore context as generally accurate and its use in the South China Sea as a sort of propaganda or convenient euphemism.
  8. While this possibility has occasionally been mentioned in the Chinese press, the author has yet to identify any authoritative Chinese military writings describing this as a definite intention, thus nit remains only a supposition, but a reasonable one considering COSCO’s longstanding role in the supply of PLAN vessels operating in the Gulf of Aden. COSCO presently has management stakes in four overseas ports: Antwerp, the Piraeus, Suez and Singapore. COSCO also operates individual terminal management companies in other overseas ports. The expansion of this presence remains stated company policy (COSCO, 2015; COSCO, 2015; COSCO, 2015; Port Finance International, March 26, 2014).
  9. This would not preclude the presence of any Chinese military personnel at such facilities, but they would likely be very few in number and mostly focused on providing direct liaison services between the facility and the ships, much as the attachés do now.
  10. In this context East Africa is taken to exclude the Horn of Africa (i.e. Somalia, Ethiopia, etc.).
  11. This should not be construed as either a recommendation or a prediction on the part of the author, but merely an observation.



No comments:

Post a Comment