Overly aggressive Chinese defense policies designed for world domination has always put the Dragon in a race often competing against superpowers such as United States of America. The world is aware that the U.S. has the ability to deploy its forces at any corner of the world within hours thanks to its superior naval bases and sea route connectivity. In order to emulate a similar proficiency, and also to counter the U.S., China is building naval bases at a much faster rate than ever.
China already has the world’s largest navy in terms of number of vessels and it is further adding up to its bases around the world. China’s latest Ream naval base in Cambodia nears completion with a pier that can easily berth warship and aircraft carrier. The development has given warning signals to Washington which has already raised its concerns over China’s “highly secretive” project. Although, both Cambodia and China have rubbished the US’ claims. When asked about the project earlier Chinese officials have stated that China and Cambodia are comprehensive strategic partners and cooperation between the two countries is open, transparent, reasonable, and legitimate. China took the project to upgrade the Cambodia naval base and this is a normal lead activity.
But the experts believe that this is a well thought-of plan of the China’s PLA that aims for
supremacy in the high seas. The eerie resemblance of Ream Naval base in Cambodia to
China’s Djibouti Naval base in the Horn of Africa built in 2017 has raised a lot of concerns for the Biden administration. Djibouti Naval base was the first step and Djibouti Naval base would be the second step and definitely not the last when it comes to naval expansion plan of China. China’s vicious plan comprises naval bases across the globe and they started towards this strategy almost two decades ago. In last 20 years China has financed 123 seaport projects at 78 ports in 46 countries at a whopping cost of $29.9 billion.
China says that these civilian ports are commercial projects aimed at enabling trade. But ironically Chineselaws enables China to make a dual-use of these ports, which means that whenever the Chinese military would feel the need to use these civilian ports other than for commercial purpose it is free to do that. A Chinese warship can be placed on any of the ports owned or operated by Chinese firms for a quick stopover, replenishment of supplies of food and water, and refueling. Chinese funded ports are everywhere from Latin America to Africa and even near Europe, South Asia, and East Asia. Out of 78 projects eyed by China, 49 projects are either approved, under construction or already completed. Out of these there
eight ports that are critical to China’s plans. These eight likely candidates for potential naval bases for China are – Nouakchott, Mauritania; Kribi, Cameroon; Bata, Equatorial Guinea; Gwadar, Pakistan; Nacala, Mozambique; Hambantota, Sri Lanka; Luganville, Vanuatu; and Ream, Cambodia. Two of these naval bases would be critical for India — Gwadar in Pakistan and Hambantota in Sri Lanka.
The obvious question appears is: Why China is building so many naval bases? There are two possible reasons for this. The first one is for possible invasion of island nation Taiwan via show of force. The second reason is eagerness for global domination to challenge global powers like the United States of America and Russia in every potential theater of conflict.
China has already showing a bonhomie with Russia by backing it amid Russia-Ukraine
conflict. Now, the only contender in front of China in terms of naval capacity is the United States of America, with which China is already in a tug-of-war kind of situation when it comes to global trade, semiconductor chips, and what not. China also feels that unlike the US, it is not party to international defence alliances – its only formal defence treaty is with North Korea. This again gives motivates China to build overseas naval bases on priority for China’s military development. Hence, the plan to build naval bases in remotest part of the world. The whole of West is already aware of China’s tactics as this has now become a race that can have only one outcome – a higher risk of an armed conflict.