9 July 2018
A US congressman has raised concerns over China’s presence in East Africa after the Djibouti government seized control of the Doraleh port terminal last February.
Congressman Bradley Byrne, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote to Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
In his letter on the 5 March, Congressman Byrne wrote: “I am deeply troubled about recent Chinese actions in Africa and efforts to expand their influence in the region.
“Reports that Djibouti plans to gift a major port to the Chinese government could negatively impact the ability of US military and intelligence officials to conduct critical counterterrorism operations.
“I encourage our military leaders to monitor the issue closely to ensure that any actions will not negatively impact our service members or our important economic, military or diplomatic efforts throughout Africa.”
Djibouti, home to China’s sole overseas military base, is a key part of China’s One Belt, One Road project.
It recently signed the Djibouti International Free Trade Zones (DIFTZ), which received a large amount of funding from China.
“China’s purchase of influence doesn’t stop at the port,” Congressman Byrne continued.
“Beijing has financed two international airports, a rail line linking Djibouti and Ethiopia, and a new presidential palace for (Djibouti president) Mr. Guelleh – rumored to be “free of charge.”
“The growing correlation between the billions spent by Beijing and actions taken by Djibouti harmful to the interests of the U.S. and our allies raises serious questions.”