Chinese engagement in Africa is becoming an increasingly popular topic of conversation on Capitol Hill among U.S. lawmakers who, raised the issue again last week during testimony by Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
During a Q&A session with Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, General Berrier restated the Pentagon’s concerns about China’s expanding military presence in Africa, particularly at the PLA Navy’s base in Djibouti that is now reportedly capable of docking one of China’s two aircraft carriers:
SENATOR INHOFE: Thank you very much. Now, on — the committee heard last week from AFRICOM, General Townsend, that China views Africa as a key power projection platform for its military, and I believe that’s true. China’s built for the first — up until just about two or three years ago, China didn’t do anything outside of its own limits. But now, of course, they got busy down in Djibouti. I’ve been down there. I’ve flown over that area. I know what they’re doing down there. It’s aggressively pursuing a naval base on the west coast of Africa that would give China an enduring military presence in the Atlantic. General Townsend called this his “number one global power competition concern.” General Berrier, do you agree with General Townsend that China views Africa as a key power projection platform for its military?
GENERAL BERRIER: Senator, I believe the Chinese, in order to safeguard their Belt-Road Initiative, will put in place military forces where they see they need that kind of capability. Africa is certainly one of those places where they have done that. The interesting thing about the way they look at Africa is sort of this long-term developmental approach, which will allow them over a long period to put more forces there. So I do agree with General Townsend, but in the extent that Africa is one area where strategic competition will play out. It will also play out in Latin America and South America and wherever they extend their markets you will find that activity.
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