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But US military officials have expressed concern about it.According to the Pentagon report, issued this week, the Djibouti base, "along with regular naval vessel visits to foreign ports, both reflects and amplifies China’s growing influence, extending the reach of its armed forces," and it"China most likely will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and in which there is a precedent for hosting foreign militaries," the report says.But, as US president Barack Obama prepares to visit the region later this week, the Pentagon has raised serious concerns over the ability of US forces to continue conducting crucial counter-terrorism operations from Djibouti after the country’s president, Omar Guelleh, concluded a multi-million dollar deal with China.American intelligence officials fear a significant Chinese presence in Djibouti will seriously compromise their own intelligence-gathering operations in the country.Now Pentagon officials have raised concerns that China’s deepening commercial involvement in Djibouti could mean Washington will have to relocate sensitive intelligence-gathering operations to more secure locations outside Djibouti where they are better protected from interception by the Chinese.
American diplomats are also resisting attempts by Mr Guelleh to stand for re-election next year, which they argue is unconstitutional.
Attempts by China to increase its strategic involvement in East Africa have raised serious concerns about the future of one of America’s key intelligence-gathering posts on Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Since the September 11 attacks in 2001, the US military’s Camp Lemonnier, which is located in the East African state of Djibouti, has become the centre for US terrorism operations in the region, gathering vital intelligence on al-Qaeda and Islamic State terror cells operating both in Africa and the Gulf region.
“Australia's view of course is that an American presence in the Asia-Pacific has helped underpin stability there and created a climate in which the peaceful economic development, including that of China, has been able to occur.” However, Song Xiaojun, a prominent Chinese Defence strategist and former People’s Liberation Army officer, told the Sydney Morning Herald that Australia could not juggle its friendships with China and the United States indefinitely, and needed to pick its side.
“Australia has to find a godfather sooner or later,” said Mr Song.