The Seychelles on Friday invited Beijing to set up a military base on the archipelago to beef up the fight against piracy there, Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Paul Adam said.
The declaration comes as Liang Guanglie makes the first-ever visit by a Chinese defence minister to the Indian Ocean island state.
"We have invited the Chinese government to set up a military presence on Mahe to fight the pirate attacks that the Seychelles face on a regular basis," Adam said.
"For the time being China is studying this possibility because she has economic interests in the region and Beijing is also involved in the fight against piracy," he explained.
General Liang, who arrived in Victoria on Thursday with a 40-strong delegation, had been invited in October by Seychelles President James Michel, when he was on a visit to China.
The two countries signed a military cooperation agreement in 2004 that has enabled some 50 Seychelles soldiers to be trained in China. They renewed their agreement on Friday but without making public the new details.
If the Chinese military base goes ahead, "it won't be the first foreign military presence here because the Americans already have a small drone base here that they use in the fight against piracy," Adam said.
After warships deployed starting 2008 in the Gulf of Aden to thwart attacks on vessels, Somali pirates enlarged their field of operations into the Indian Ocean, including towards the Seychelles.
With 115 islands scattered over an area of 1.4 million square kilometres (540,000 square miles), a population of 85,000 and an army of just 500, the archipelago has been asking for foreign assistance.
Liang flew in from the Ugandan capital Kampala, where, according to Ugandan government sources, he promised $2.3 million in military aid, including support to troops in the African Union force in Somalia.
Piracy has flourished off war-torn Somalia, outwitting international efforts -- including constant patrols by warships and tough sentencing of the pirates they capture.
I wouldn't go that far. But I have no illusions about Chinese intentions and behavior in the region, they're extremely selfish and domineering. The US is a far gentler beast in all respects than a superpower China.
With the very abbrassive attitude and a brazen show of brute arrogance, China has woken up the entire ASEAN region in just 1 year. Now it's back to default mode for all the countries in the neighborhood, "it's better to deal with the devil we already know:" The only exception is Myanmar, it's going out of its comfort zone to extend a hand to the US... But of course still in synch with the general feeling of the ASEAN countries.
China has a very simple but annoying strategy in the region if it does not get what it wants immediately, it will threaten economic actions against that small country... As if it is already the undisputed economy in the World. How much more if it gains No. 1 position? This is absolutely crazy.
Last edited by asianobserve; 03-12-11 at 10:01 AM.
I have said this before and I will say it again - if you think the US is a bad superpower, then wait till China develops a full blown blue-water navy with the capability to project power far beyond their shores.
Then you will see the Chinese claiming every spick of island land as close as 5 miles from the shores of the ASEAN countries. And they will use their economic and military power to intimidate the whole ASEAN region including the Aussies, Japan, and India.
It will probably take 20 years for China to become the undisputed king of South Asia - That means that all the these countries have about 20 years to get their "shit" together. Only the Aussies, Japan and India have the combination of size, technological and economc strength to prevent the whole of South Asia from being dominated.
I seriously doubt India will ever get there - India is too divided, too corrupt, and too slow with a hopelessly incompetent political class. A few competent individuals at the top cannot change the whole country. Central govt in India is too weak.
So that leaves Japan and Australia - both are too dependent on the US and the US will have its own problems by then.