600 yrs after Zhang He, first base overseas: Reading signals from China’s new military base at Africa’s Horn
In the first quarter of the 15th century, the great Chinese admiral Zheng He sailed in the Indian Ocean, carrying seven expeditions to Indonesia, Southeast Asia, India and even the Horn of Africa. According to the medieval Chinese records, its huge 1405 expedition included 27,800 men and a fleet of 62 treasure, with the support of about 190 small vessels.
Zheng He’s travels were considered earlier and were larger shipments of Christophe Colomb.
China’s great maritime tradition, however, was disrupted by the Haijin, or banning the sea, imposed by its imperial leaders as part of the defense against pirates in the South China Sea.
This week, Beijing has dispatched personnel in Djibouti, its first overseas military base, marked the official return of Chinese maritime expansionism – and sent some tremors of concern in the world capitals, including New Delhi.
“In recent years, the government and the EPL sponsored a campaign to promote a sense of the ocean among civilians.
Now the country is represented both as a continental power and a Pacific power. Contrary to the traditional view of the yellow culture that glorified the history of central China, Chinese scholars now want to bring their people a notion of blue culture (the culture of the ocean), “You Ji, Professor of the School of Politics, University of New South Wales, Australia, wrote in the book, China increased nationalism and interdependence.
In the chapter “A Navy Blue Water, What’s Important” that is currently professor and head of the government department of Public Administration at the University of Macau, recalled the legendary blue water trips of Zheng He:
“The message is clear.If China had developed a sense of the ocean 600 years ago, it would have long been a superpower if China always adheres to its policy of yellow land, it will never accept its rightful place in the world.
As two Chinese Navy warships abandoned the Zhanjiang military port of Guangdong to Djibouti Tuesday with an unlimited number of soldiers on board, an editorial in the state of the Global Times focused on the strategic importance of the new facility in the Mouth of the Red Sea.
“No doubt this is the first base on the outside of the People’s Liberation Army and we will base the troops there. This is not a commercial order point … This base can support China’s navy to go further, which means Much, “the paper said.
However, the Global Times also said that the main role of the base would be to support Chinese warships in anti-piracy and humanitarian missions in the region. “It does not seek to control the world,” he said.
But for many who watch China’s maritime ambitions, the establishment of overseas base in East Africa suggests a fundamental change in Beijing declared “up-to-date” policy.
This also raises the possibility of an “advanced deployment” from India – Gwadar port in Pakistan, where deployment is currently proposed to “protect” the Chinese workers at the facility.
Anyway, some of the South Block officials have pointed out, Djibouti is only 1525 nautical miles from Gwadar – a distance that can be traversed in approximately 6 days at sea.