NAVAL WAR COLLEGE NEWPORT RI NEWPORT United States
This China Maritime Report on Djibouti is the first in a series of case studies on Chinas overseas strategic strongpoints. The strategic strongpoint concept has no formal definition, but is used by Peoples Republic of China PRC officials and analysts to describe foreign ports with special strategic and economic value that host terminals and commercial zones operated by Chinese firms. Each case study examines the characteristics and functions of port projects developed and operated by Chinese companies across the Indian Ocean region. The distinctive features of these projects are 1 their strategic locations, positioned astride major sea lines of communication SLOCs and clustered near vital maritime chokepoints 2 the comprehensive nature of Chinese investments and operations, involving coordination among state-owned enterprises and private firms to construct not only the port, but rail, road, and pipeline infrastructure, and further, to promote finance, trade, industry, and resource extraction in inland markets and 3 their fused civilian and military functions, serving as platforms for economic, military, and diplomatic interactions. Strategic strongpoints advance a Chinese Communist Party CCP leadership objective to become a strong maritime powerwhich requires, inter alia, the development of a strong marine economy and the capability to protect Chinese rights and interests in the maritime domain. With the notable exception of the sole overseas Peoples Liberation Army PLA base at Djibouti, all of the facilities examined in this series are ostensibly commercial. Even the Chinese presence in Djibouti has some major commercial motivations addressed in detail in this study.