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China Plans Second Military Base on African Coast

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: December 7, 2021
China wants a military base at Equatorial Guinea.
China wants a military base at Equatorial Guinea. (Image: sunu_dhadho via Pixabay)

As China’s military prowess grows, the communist regime also seeks to expand its presence internationally via overseas military bases. Africa is a critical piece of Beijing’s plan to develop a global military network. Recent reports suggest that the Chinese regime is particularly interested in building a base on the continent’s Atlantic coast.

According to a WSJ report reviewing classified American intelligence reports, China wants to set up a military base in the Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea. Located on the west coast of Africa, Equatorial Guinea is a small nation with an area of 11,000 square miles and a population of under 1.5 million. 

If China can pull off the arrangement, it would allow Chinese warships to refit and rearm opposite to the American East Coast, which is a significant threat to the United States.

In October, Jon Finer, the U.S. National Security Advisor, visited Equatorial Guinea. He went to persuade the country’s president and vice president, who is the president’s son, to dismiss communist China’s proposal of a military base. 

“As part of our diplomacy to address maritime-security issues, we have made clear to Equatorial Guinea that certain potential steps involving [Chinese] activity there would raise national-security concerns,” a senior Biden official stated.

After Finer’s visit, the Equatorial Guinea vice president soon announced that the White House named him the “No. 1 interlocutor in relations between our two countries.” He also tweeted a thank you video with a gift he received from Finer’s delegation. 

A few days later, Equatorial Guinea’s president spoke with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Beijing’s follow-up statement insisted that Equatorial Guinea has “always regarded” China as its “most important strategic partner.”

The Equatorial Guinean police are trained and armed by Beijing. China specifically has its eye on the city of Bata which already hosts a Chinese-built deep-water commercial port on the Gulf of Guinea. 

Bata has good highway connectivity with the interior regions of Central Africa and the city of Gabon. The Bata port was upgraded by Chinese state-owned enterprise China Road & Bridge Co. between 2009 and 2014. At present, there are no major construction activities at Bata. 

In May, U.S. General Stephen Townsend had warned about China’s naval ambitions in the African West Coast. Beijing had approached several countries like Namibia and Mauritania to establish a naval facility.

“They’re looking for a place where they can rearm and repair warships… That becomes militarily useful in conflict. They’re a long way toward establishing that in Djibouti… Now they are casting their gaze to the Atlantic coast and wanting to get such a base there,” Townsend said

He warned that China is “outmaneuvering” the United States in select African nations. By investing in Africa’s infrastructure and other projects, the communist regime will gain “greater access in the future,” the general said. 

China already has a naval base in Africa in the nation of Djibouti. Beijing has posted around 2,000 military personnel at the base, which includes hundreds of marines. The base is equipped with armored combat vehicles, arms, and munitions. 

Beijing also wants to establish a military base in the Pacific, targeting a small 3.6-mile island called Canton that belongs to the Republic of Kiribati. In May, the island nation’s parliament disclosed that the CCP had explored a plan to transform the abandoned airstrip and bridge at Canton into a base as well as restore what was once an American military base. If the airstrip is repaired and upgraded, it would meet the requirements of large transport aircraft and combat aircraft.