China to open military base in Indian Ocean

Last Updated: Monday, December 12, 2011 - 12:38

Beijing: In a move that may cause unease in
India, China on Monday announced that it will set up its first
military base abroad in the Indian Ocean island of Seychelles
to "seek supplies and recuperate" facilities for its Navy.

The naval fleet may seek supplies or recuperate at
appropriate harbours in Seychelles or other countries as
needed during escort missions, Chinese Defence Ministry
announced here today.

China has already cemented its foothold in the Indian
Ocean by signing contract with the UN backed International
Seabed Authority to gain rights to explore polymetallic
sulphide ore deposit in Indian Ocean over the next 15 years.

The contract awarded this year to a Chinese association
exclusive rights to explore a 10,000-square-km of
international seabed in the southwest Indian Ocean.

The base in Seychelles is regarded significant by
analysts as China is about to launch its first aircraft
carrier. It is currently undergoing final trials.

Playing down its significance, Chinese Defence Ministry
statement today said it is international practice for naval
fleets to re-supply at the closest port of a nearby state
during long-distance missions.

Apparently commenting on a recent report that China will
establish a military base in Seychelles, it said Chinese naval
fleets have re-supply facilities at harbours in Djibouti, Oman
and Yemen since China sent its first convoy to the Gulf of
Aden in 2008.

The decision to establish its first naval base abroad was
taken during Chinese Defence Minister Gen Liang Guanglie`s
goodwill visit to Seychelles earlier this month.

During the visit, Seychelles Foreign Affairs Minister
Jean-Paul Adam said his country has invited China to set up a
military base on the archipelago to beef up the fight against
piracy.

"We have invited the Chinese government to set up a
military presence on Mahe to fight the pirate attacks that the
Seychelles face on a regular basis," Adam was quoted as saying
in the media reports.

"For the time being China is studying this possibility
because she has economic interests in the region and Beijing
is also involved in the fight against piracy," he said.

During Liang`s visit, the two sides exchanged views on
their countries` and armies` cooperation, as well as on the
global and regional situation, state-run Xinhua news agency
reported.

Seychelles appreciates China`s efforts to maintain safe
navigation on the Indian Ocean, as well as the support it has
granted to Seychelles, the ministry said.

Seychelles also invited China`s navy to re-supply and
recuperate in the country during escort missions, the defence
ministry statement said.

PTI



First Published: Monday, December 12, 2011 - 12:38

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