China setting up naval base in Djibouti, a concern for India
In an effort to assert its presence in Africa and Indian Ocean region, China has sent its troops to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa to setup its first overseas military base.
This is a cause of concern for India not only from military and defence point of view but also in terms of trade with Africa, which has become a bone of contention for both India and China.
The naval base is strategically located on the eastern edge of Africa, which means that movement of Chinese ships will increase in the Indian Ocean region. China has ramped up investment in Africa, as well as rapidly modernised its military in recent years.
Although China officially terms the Djibouti base as a 'logistics facility', Beijing's recent move to send ships carrying military personnel clearly indicates that it would also serve as strategic defence facility.
Reprots say that on Tuesday the ships had departed from Zhanjiang in southern China "to set up a support base in Djibouti".
China began construction of this base in strategically located Djibouti last year when its naval vessels were taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia.
In terms of trade, China, at a major summit with African nations in 2015, pledged to invest $60bn in Africa's development. It has started to invest heavily in Africa, especially in infrastructure projects like railways and improving connectivity.
China's keen interest in Africa is due to the fact that it has abundance of natural resources. China is not only eying to tap African market but also looking at it as a supplier of minerals and energy.
India, on the other hand, has been a little late in approaching Africa for trade. Although, Indian companies have presence in Africa, New Delhi's push for furthering relations has been somewhat delayed.
Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya with a focus on on deepening cooperation in hydrocarbons, maritime security, trade and investment, agriculture and food.
In May this year, Modi pitched for an "Asia-Africa growth corridor" supported by Japan and India which was seen as an move to counter China's OBOR (One Belt, One Road) initiative.