China is Building its First Military Base in Africa by James Poulos, The Week
Africa is likely to become one of the biggest stories of 2016, and not because of some horrific new disease or harrowing new war. Instead, an unprecedented new dynamic is about to shape the continent. The U.S. and China, major powers with a minor footprint, are both poised for much deeper and more direct involvement in African affairs.
And rather than finding themselves on a crash course, they're facing a more complex — and, for America, unnerving — situation. Thanks to the much different challenges and priorities facing both powers, African intervention is shaping up as a feast for China and a famine for the U.S.
Look to Djibouti for big clues about why. News is quietly breaking that China has sealed a deal to build its first military base in that little country, a former French colony strategically located across from Yemen on the Red Sea, squeezed between Eritrea and Somalia. Confirming years of under-the-radar suspicions, AFRICOM commander Gen. David Rodriguez told The Hill that the "logistics hub" and airfield will let China "extend their reach" into Africa over the course of an initial 10-year contract. Currently, The Hill observed, China can't do much more than stage some naval patrols out of Djibouti ports.
Given China's breakneck expansion into Africa, that's just not good enough. In Africa, China has found not just a market for money but for jobs and land — crucial components of sustained economic growth. As December's Forum on China-Africa Cooperation revealed, the Middle Kingdom wants to ensure privileged access to that kind of future. Although it's hard to unravel the details, Beijing used the Forum to pledge $60 billion in loans and export credits…