An Overseas Naval Presence without Overseas Bases: China’s Counter-piracy Operation in the Gulf of Aden

Susanne Kamerling, Frans-Paul van der Putten

Abstract


This article aims to assess how China is using its navy to secure its interests in the Gulf of Aden, and what this means for the European Union. The analysis of how China’s naval presence in the Gulf of Aden has evolved since early 2009 suggests that China’s increasing interests and involvement in Africa do not necessarily lead to the establishment of Chinese naval bases in or close to the continent. To supply its ships, the Chinese navy may well continue using the commercial-diplomatic model that China has been developing. This model is based on China’s close diplomatic relations with countries in the region and the extensive presence of Chinese companies to whom logistical services can be outsourced and who are under a greater degree of state influence than most Western multinationals. One of the consequences of this approach is that although China may not establish overseas military bases, it may be able to keep expanding its naval presence in or around Africa.

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