China and the United States face off in Djibouti as the world powers fight for influence in Africa
Posted On May 27, 2019
A dirt track at Djibouti’s Doraleh Port leads to a series of unassuming single-story buildings that, earlier this year, hosted the world’s two superpowers.
The Chinese contingent took their seats to the far right of the podium where US Rear Adm. Heidi Berg formally launched the US-led military exercise, Cutlass Express.
Cutlass, and the handful of other annual US-led drills held throughout the African continent, are a low-risk and relatively low-cost way for US Africa Command (AFRICOM) to gain and keep regional allies.
But in Djibouti — a tiny nation of just 884,000 people that is a key Red Sea ally of the US — and throughout Africa, there’s new competition for local loyalties from China’s military, which is increasingly asserting its influence on the continent.
In 2017, China’s People Liberation Army (PLA) opened its first overseas base in Djibouti. The sprawling, gray concrete complex sits on a prime location next to one of Djibouti’s main ports — and is just a 15-minute drive from the US military’s only permanent base on the continent, Camp Lemonnier……..read more