For decades, China's presence in Africa has largely focused on economic, commercial and peacekeeping activities. Now, Beijing is building on that by establishing greater military links to protect its national assets on the continent and gain greater geopolitical influence.
The People's Liberation Army conducts regular joint training exercises across the region and, in certain countries that are home to major Chinese infrastructure projects under the Belt and Road initiative, the communist state has been especially active.
In Djibouti, where Chinese companies have constructed strategic ports and Africa's first electric transnational railway, Beijing last year formally launched its first overseas military base, which also operates as a logistics and intelligence facility. Many experts now anticipate more Chinese bases in the years to come, with Namibia rumored as a potential location.
Meanwhile in Tanzania, where the state-run conglomerate China Merchants Holdings International is hoping to invest in the Bagamoyo mega port, China built a complex designed to train local armed forces earlier this year. And, at the first-ever China-Africa Defense and Security Forum in Beijing on Tuesday, the communist state announced it will provide African countries with "comprehensive support" on matters such as piracy and counter-terrorism. That includes providing technologies, equipment, personnel and strategic advice, local media reported.