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This Exchange on Capitol Hill Explains Why the Pentagon Keeps Saying China Wants to Build a New Base in Africa

Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe (left) and Assistant Secretary of Defense nominee Celeste Wallander (right).

For the past year or so, General Stephen Townsend, the top U.S. commander for Africa (AFRICOM) has said repeatedly that China is looking to build a new military base on the continent, this time on the Atlantic coast. But neither he nor his colleagues at the Pentagon have provided evidence to support the claim, attributing it only to “intelligence reports.”

With little to no discussion about such a move in Chinese military policy circles, it raises the question as to whether General Townsend’s claims are genuinely intended to sound the alarm about China’s military expansion on the continent or, more likely, that they’re instead narrowly aimed at people like Senator Jim Inhofe, the ranking Republican and longtime China Hawk on the powerful Armed Services Committee.

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