Written by Staff Writer
28 Nov, 2014 | 11:31 am
Defending its submarine’s docking at Colombo port as common practice, Chinese military on Thursday termed “utterly groundless” reports that it is setting up 18 naval bases in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar and several other places in the western and southern Indian Ocean.
“The report is not accurate”, Geng Yansheng told a media briefing here replying to a question about a report published in a Namibian newspaper on November 11 quoting a Chinese media report stating that China plans to set up 18 naval in several places including Sri Lanka.
Geng said the submarine of the China’s People’s Liberation Navy (PLAN) made “technical docking” twice in Colombo port while on escort mission to anti-piracy operations in Gulf of Aden in Somalia.
The submarine’s docking evoked concerns in India especially in the backdrop that Colombo port was renovated with large funding from China.
India reportedly took up the issue with Sri Lanka, where China also built another port at Hambantota.
“It is quite common practice for the submarines to dock in certain ports for replenishments”, Geng said.
About the report published in The Namibian newspaper, he said “we have done some investigation and found that this report cited an unofficial commentary published in the internet about two years ago”.
“The report also exaggerated and twisted the content of that commentary. Therefore the report is utterly groundless”, he said.
Asked to clarify under what conditions the Chinese military would set up bases abroad he said “currently there are no military bases abroad for the Chinese military”.
China in the past has maintained that it had no plans for establishing military bases abroad as it expanded its navy with modern fleet including an aircraft carrier.
The Namibian report said Walvis Bay of Namibia will be one of 18 naval bases to be established by Chinese in various countries including Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Mynanmar in the northern Indian Ocean, Djibouti, Yemen, Oman, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique in the western Indian Ocean and Seychelles and Madagascar in the central South Indian Ocean.
“These three strategic lines will further enhance China’s effectiveness in taking responsibility for maintaining the safety of international maritime routes thereby maintaining regional and world stability,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed Chinese media report.
It identified the naval bases as Chongjin Port (North Korea), Moresby Port (Papua New Guinea), Sihanoukville Port (Cambodia), Koh Lanta Port (Thailand) Sittwe Port (Myanmar), Dhaka Port (Bangladesh), Gwadar Port (Pakistan), Hambantota Port (Sri Lanka), Maldives, Seychelles, Djibouti Port (Djibouti), Lagos Port (Nigeria), Mombasa Port (Kenya), Dar es Salaam Port (Tanzania) and Luanda Port (Angola).
Significantly, it quoted the Namibian Ministry of Defence spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Monica Sheya confirming saying that once a decision is made, the ministry will inform the nation.
“We have read about it. I believe it is being discussed at the higher levels, but that’s all I can say now. Once a decision has been made, we will be sure to inform the nation about it, but we cannot say more yet,” Sheya said.
China plans to build replenishment, berthing and maintenance bases in foreign countries through mutually beneficial and friendly consultations.
Furthermore, the reports state that the Chinese navy will not establish “US-style” military bases, yet it will not exclude the establishment of a number of so-called ‘Overseas Strategic Support Bases’ in accordance with prevailing international rules.
China has several major infrastructure development and resource extraction interests in Namibia. It also has a satellite tracking station near Swakopmund, the report said.
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