The PLA Beyond Asia: China’s Growing Military Presence in the Red Sea Region
By Joel Wuthnow
Strategic Forum 303
Jan. 22, 2020 —
China has gradually expanded its military footprint in the Red Sea region, an area of critical importance for global maritime commerce and energy production. Key aspects include a People’s Liberation Army role in United Nations peacekeeping, anti-piracy patrols, and a new base in Djibouti.
China’s military presence—its largest outside the Indo-Pacific—supports Beijing’s diplomatic relations in the region, contributes to China’s maritime security interests, and provides useful lessons in building an expeditionary capability.
U.S. officials need to address operational safety and counterintelligence issues and determine whether China’s presence—which also includes military diplomacy and arms sales— is eroding traditional U.S. advantages as a security partner.
Opportunities for military cooperation should be explored in areas where U.S. and Chinese interests align, such as disaster management and maritime safety.
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