China targeting Kenya for military base, US claims


Chinese soldiers marching in formation during a military parade in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The United States (US) believes China may soon have a military base in Kenya.

A Pentagon report published on Tuesday says China is eyeing military logistics bases in a dozen countries including Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania - keen on building and sustaining its military power around the world.

"The PRC (Peoples Republic of China) has likely considered Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Seychelles, Tanzania, Angola, and Tajikistan as locations for PLA (People's Liberation Army) military logistics facilities," said the Pentagon in its annual “China Military Power” report to Congress.

The report said China could have started talks with countries including Kenya on setting up the outpost.

The Kenyan military did not respond by press time to a request by the Business Daily for comment about the report.

"The PRC has probably already made overtures to Namibia, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands. Known focus areas of PLA planning are along the SLOCs (Sea lines of communication) from China to the Strait of Hormuz, Africa, and the Pacific Islands," said the report.

Beijing’s goal, the report said, is eventually to leverage its new military might to achieve its foreign-policy objectives and to assert itself globally.

China's reported military ambitions come amid it's plans to implement the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative that aims to further trade with African countries including Kenya.

China has been funding billions of shillings worth of infrastructure in Kenya via debt under the initiative, including the standard gauge rail-line between Nairobi and Mombasa.

The initiative was first announced in 2013 and is a signature foreign and economic policy launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The US has, however been increasingly vocal in urging Kenya to be wary of heavy borrowing for the projects, warning that it can be saddled with unpayable debts to Beijing for the projects built largely with Chinese labour.

President Uhuru Kenyatta's government has, however maintained that borrowing to build the mega projects will spur economic growth and development.

China opened its first military base in Djibouti in 2017. Chinese Navy Marines are deployed at the base, along with armoured vehicles and artillery support.

Previously, other analysts have pointed to China’s military base in Djibouti as signalling Beijing’s geopolitical ambitions overseas.