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China navy official says overseas base needed

China navy official says overseas base needed

China needs a permanent naval base overseas to resupply its ships contributing to the multinational anti-piracy flotilla in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia, a prominent Chinese naval researcher was quoted as saying Wednesday.
The suggestion marks a further step away from China's avowed policy of not maintaining foreign military bases or alliances. Beijing says a more active naval presence abroad is necessary to protect sea lanes through which its vital foreign trade and natural resources travel.
The bases idea was floated in a state radio interview with Yin Zhuo, a frequent navy spokesman on matters involving interactions with foreign navies. Yin offered no suggestions on where a base would be located and said all such decisions lay with top military leaders.
"However, I believe that a relatively stable, relatively solid base for resupply and repair would be appropriate," said Yin, a rear admiral and director of the naval center on information research.
A transcript appeared on the Defense Ministry's official Web site on Wednesday.
Such a base would provide a steady source of fresh fruit, vegetables and water, along with facilities for communications, ship repair, rest and recreation, and medical evacuation of injured personnel, Yin said.
China deployed its first three-ship squadron to patrol off the Somali coast last December in response to rising pirate attacks on civilian ships from China and other countries.
Yin said the first Chinese mission was at sea for four months without calling at any regional ports, but subsequent squadrons had visited them with increasing frequency. He said he anticipated future port calls in Djibouti on the horn of Africa, where both the U.S. and France have major naval bases.
While foreign observers have made little of the presence of the Chinese _ who have seen little action against actual pirates _ leaders in Beijing are highly sensitive to perceptions that China is becoming an expansionist power.
Yin said the Chinese presence had been welcomed by other members of the multinational force. He predicted there would be no opposition to establishing a permanent base.
"I believe that regional countries and countries taking part in the anti-piracy patrols would understand if China established a relatively permanent coastal supply base," Yin said.


Updated : 2021-04-11 19:10 GMT+08:00