Of course, China began its policy of expanding its military presence from nearby regions. The reason for the creation of Chinese military posts and bases in South and Southeast Asia lies, first of all, in the undisguised confrontation with India. China seeks to surround India with its military bases in order to ensure control over the situation. Initially, China identified its military-political interests in Myanmar. This country has long and very close contacts with Beijing, since it is in the zone of its influence. In the second half of the twentieth century, China supported the Burmese Maoists and some armed rebel movements of the country's national minorities. Currently, the main object of support from the PRC is the so-called. “Wa State” is a small territory, virtually independent of the central authorities of Myanmar and controlled by the Wa Waist State insurgents. This organization received from China a variety of weapons, it is possible that its military personnel were trained by Chinese instructors. Simultaneously with the support of the WA, China is working closely with Myanmar. There are Chinese military posts in the country, China has very serious economic interests in Myanmar. In the face of rebels from the State of Wa, China has a lever of pressure on the government of Myanmar, which demonstrates the possibility of more active support for the movement if Myanmar begins to pursue a policy contrary to Chinese economic interests. They are connected, first of all, with the Myanmar-China pipeline, built in the 2013 year and supplying 12 billion cubic meters of gas to the Celestial Empire annually.
But Myanmar also has its own oil and gas fields - in yet another troubled state of Rakhine. Recently, this area, home to numerous Rohingya communities practicing Islam, has come to the center of attention of the whole world. Then the government forces of Myanmar carried out punitive operations against the Muslim people. It is likely that this was done with the direct support of Beijing, which is very interested in stabilizing the situation in Rakhine State. It is not by chance that the Americans, indifferent to everything that does not belong to their political and economic interests, suddenly became so concerned with punitive operations against a distant and previously unknown people. For them, it is just very important to weaken the influence of China and prevent its control over the oil and gas fields in Rakhine.
The second object of Chinese military-political interest in South Asia is Pakistan. Beijing has a long and special relationship with Islamabad. The fact is that Pakistan has been the main opponent of neighboring India since its inception. China, in turn, operates on the principle of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." As early as the second half of the twentieth century, China began supporting Pakistan in all areas, from the economy to the military. The products of the Chinese military-industrial complex are supplied to Pakistan, China assisted Pakistan in the creation of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. In turn, the grateful Islamabad, which always speaks out in defense of Islam, closes its eyes to the “Xinjiang Question” - a difficult situation in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. XUAR, historically known as East Turkestan, is populated by Uighur Muslims.
Islamabad, well aware of the problematic relations between the Uyghur national movement and Beijing, has repeatedly openly declared that it recognizes both the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Tibet as integral parts of the People’s Republic of China.
However, relations of China and Pakistan are not limited to moral and informational support and supply of weapons. In 2015, China Overseas Ports Holding from China received a plot of 43 hectares in the strategically important port of Gwadar in the Arabian Sea on 152 of the year. Recall that Gwadar is crucial for the Sino-Pakistani corridor, through which China, again, plans to increase the supply of oil and gas from Iran. The corridor, about 3 long thousandth of km, should connect the port of Gwadar and just Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China.
Until recently, about 80% of oil imported into China was transported through the Strait of Malacca. Using the port of Gwadar represents an opportunity for China to gradually abandon this route, or at least significantly minimize its use.
At the same time, Beijing is well aware that it is better to ensure the security of their economic interests in Pakistan with their own hands. For this, it is supposed to transfer fighters to one of the Chinese private military companies to the country. Naturally, Beijing will not engage the regular forces of the People's Liberation Army of China in guarding the port, so as not to arouse discontent not so much with the world community, but with the Pakistani population. But here a private military company is well suited to protect Chinese economic interests in Pakistan. Despite the fact that a number of Pakistani politicians are opposed to this initiative, it is likely to be implemented and China will have its own armed forces in the port of Guadara. Not only port security, but also surveillance of India as well as American fleet in the Indian Ocean - these are the most important tasks that the Chinese military contingent will carry out.
But if the expansion of the Chinese presence in Myanmar and Pakistan can be explained by direct interests associated with the provision of oil and gas transportation and control over the countries bordering with China, then the deployment of Chinese bases in Africa indicates Beijing's much greater geostrategic ambitions. Back in 2016, construction began on China’s first open military base abroad. This base will begin to operate in a small state of Djibouti on the shores of the Red Sea. For a long time, Djibouti, a former French colony, was under the complete control of France; French troops were stationed here, including the forces of the Foreign Legion. However, not so long ago, the leadership of Djibouti, seeking to extract economic benefits from the lease of its territory to the military bases, turned to a policy of military cooperation with a number of interested states. The base of the Chinese Navy, officially called Beijing only a logistics center, should appear in Djibouti. In fact, this is a standard point of logistics, designed to serve the Chinese Navy ships when they enter the Red Sea. Beijing explained to the world community the construction of a base the need to expand China’s participation in the fight against piracy Not so long ago, a small Chinese military contingent was deployed in Djibouti, which will be engaged in the provision and protection of the base.
Like other steps to expand the military presence in different countries of the world, the construction of a base in Djibouti has two main reasons. First, China seeks to secure its economic interests. Large volumes of oil are exported to China across the Indian Ocean. However, Somali pirates are active in this part of the Indian Ocean, which periodically seize oil tankers. Naturally, ensuring the supply of energy to the PRC needs serious military support. Secondly, Djibouti - another point with access to the Indian Ocean, with which you can put pressure on India. China seeks to counterbalance the dominance of the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean. But there is a third reason - China’s economic rivalry with the United States, including in East African countries. As is known, China has long been expanding its economic influence on the African continent. Deploying military bases in Africa is another way to identify our interests and show Washington that it cannot rely on a monopoly presence in the region. By the way, do not forget that it is in Djibouti that the largest American military base is located in the region, which is constantly serviced by about 4 thousands of American military personnel.
A number of American analysts are confident that China will not stop at creating a naval base in Djibouti, but will continue to encircle the Indian Ocean with a network of military bases. Presumably, such bases may appear in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar, with which China has established close cooperation. In addition, China plans to create a whole “string of pearls” - a network of artificial islands in the Indian Ocean, which can also be used for military purposes.
In Africa, the Chinese military has long been involved in peacekeeping operations. This also demonstrates China’s military presence on the continent, although Beijing explains participation in peacekeeping actions by purely humanitarian considerations. Many African countries, where China has its own economic interests, are very unstable. They have rebel groups, terrorist organizations, and just a high level of crime. At the same time, there are more and more Chinese economic facilities, Chinese citizens are working, who may be exposed to the threat of attacks from extremists or criminals. Of course, China will not send PLA troops to protect workers of private companies, but it may well use well-trained private military companies for this purpose.
Recall that the Chinese private military companies are already actively working in Iraq, where they provide protection for employees of Chinese corporations. For a long time, Chinese companies were forced to hire local private guards, however, for obvious reasons, it is far less reliable than fellow countrymen, and less prepared. It is known that the special units of the PLA and the Chinese police have a very high level of combat training. Meanwhile, such “giants” of the Chinese private military business as the Shandong Huawei Security Group prefer to staff their states, especially those working in foreign “hot spots”, exclusively from among the former special forces with a good level of training. Following Iraq, Chinese private military companies penetrated into Afghanistan, and now the next in line are the majority of African states where China has its own economic interests. By the way, the number of employees of Chinese PMCs operating in other states in 2016 was 3200 people. This is more than the total number of Chinese peacekeepers. The last were in 2016, 2600 people.
It can be said that the Chinese military expansion will not stop on the African continent. China has significant economic interests in Latin America, for example - in the same Venezuela. China ranks third in the world in terms of turnover with Latin America. Moreover, economic relations between China and the states of the continent are rapidly developing. During the lifetime of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez, the Bolivarian Alternative was formed. Since left governments are in power in a number of Latin American countries, they are close to China ideologically. Beijing is well aware of this, increasing the pace of economic cooperation and investment in Latin American economies. Chinese companies are investing huge amounts of money in Latin America, investing in the development of the mining industry, power industry and transport infrastructure. Of course, it is still very early to speak about the appearance of Chinese military bases in Latin America. Naturally, in Washington this will be viewed as a direct military threat from Beijing. Moreover, the United States and so have a very negative attitude to the penetration of China into countries for two centuries considered exclusively the sphere of influence of Washington.
However, behind the Chinese economic presence in Latin America will inevitably come the need for its power supply. So far, China is limited only to investments in the sphere of defense of Latin American states. For example, China is actively involved in arming the Bolivian army. It is interesting for China to cooperate in the military field with other Latin American countries, and its intensification in Beijing has traditionally been explained by the need to combat terrorism.