| 28 May 2024, Tuesday |

US general: China’s Africa outreach poses threat to America

A top US general has accused China of planning to extend its influence beyond the Asia Pacific with the potential construction of a large Atlantic naval base on the west coast of Africa, adding that Beijing is “outmaneuvering the US in select countries in Africa.”

US General Stephen Townsend, who leads US Africa Command (Africom), said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that China has been working with the countries like Mauritania and Namibia on establishing a naval base with the capability to host submarines or aircraft carriers.

“They’re looking for a place where they can rearm and repair warships. That becomes militarily useful in conflict,” Townsend said.

“They’re a long way toward establishing that in Djibouti” on Africa’s east coast, he added. “Now they’re casting their gaze to the Atlantic coast and wanting to get such a base there.”

Washington has accused Beijing of attempting to extend its influence not only in Asia and the Pacific region, but also over countries in Africa, South America and the Middle East.

Townsend claimed that China’s military site in Djibouti has been increasing in size and capacity, with China deploying some2,000 military personnel there as well as hundreds of Marines.

The American general also said that China is “outmaneuvering the US in select countries in Africa.”

“Port projects, economic endeavors, infrastructure and their agreements and contracts will lead to greater access in the future,” he told the AP. “They are hedging their bets and making big bets on Africa.”

He said the potential Chinese military base on the Atlantic coast would be a great concern for the United States due to the relatively shorter distance to America than from the Horn of Africa.

The US military’s 2020 report on China’s military power claimed that Beijing was seeking to add naval, air and ground forces in Angola and other locations in Africa.

The report also said China was focusing on Africa and the Middle East in the coming years, with large amounts of oil and natural gas recently imported from these regions.

China’s Defense Ministry said last year that many years of evidence shows that the United States is the biggest threat to global order and peace.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Wu Qian made the remark in reaction to the Pentagon report released on September 2 that said Chinese military developments and goals presented “serious implications for US national interests and the security of the international rules-based order.”

Wu called the report a “wanton distortion” of China’s aims and the relationship between the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and China’s 1.4 billion population.

He said that US actions in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and other countries over the past two decades had led to the killing of over 800,000 people and the displacement of millions more.

Meanwhile, a top Chinese diplomat has denounced as “too negative” the US policy toward his country, saying the administration in Washington is more focused on confrontation rather than cooperation with Beijing.

Le Yucheng, China’s vice-foreign minister, made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press last month as he was criticizing Washington’s hardline policies continued by US President Joe Biden against China.