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U.S. AFRICOM Commander says China is seeking to set up a big navy port on the west coast of Africa

"They’re looking for a place where they can rearm and repair warships. That becomes militarily useful in conflict," Gen. Stephen Townsend said during an interview with the Associated Press.

Updated: May 6, 2021 - 9:53pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

U.S. Africa Command leader Gen. Stephen Townsend said that China is seeking to set up a navy port along the west coast of Africa.

"They're looking for a place where they can rearm and repair warships. That becomes militarily useful in conflict," Townsend said during an interview with the Associated Press. "They're a long way toward establishing that in Djibouti. Now they're casting their gaze to the Atlantic coast and wanting to get such a base there."

China's Djibouti naval base, which is located on the eastern side of the continent, contains as many as 2,000 military personnel, including hundreds of Marines who deal with security, according to Townsend. "They have arms and munitions for sure," he said. "They have armored combat vehicles. We think they will soon be basing helicopters there to potentially include attack helicopters.

"The Chinese are outmaneuvering the U.S. in select countries in Africa," he said. "Port projects, economic endeavors, infrastructure and their agreements and contracts will lead to greater access in the future. They are hedging their bets and making big bets on Africa."

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