Question That Won’t Go Away: Is China Building A Navy Base In Namibia?

Question That Won’t Go Away: Is China Building A Navy Base In Namibia?

From RealClearDefense. Story by Robert C. O’Brien

Robert C. O’Brien is the California managing partner of a U.S. national law firm. He served as a U.S. Representative to the U.N. and was a senior advisor to Gov. Mitt Romney. His writings on foreign policy and national security are available at www.robertcobrien.com.

I recently returned from Walvis Bay, Namibia, the country’s sole deepwater port and former South Atlantic home to the Royal and South African Navies.

While Walvis Bay enjoys a 138-year history with the Royal Navy, it could soon be home to a powerful Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy surface squadron.

(The People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLA Navy, is the naval warfare branch of the People’s Liberation Army, the national armed forces of the People’s Republic of China.)

In Jan. 2015, The Namibian (newspaper) reported the existence of a “confidential letter from Namibia’s ambassador to China, Ringo Abed, to Namibia’s foreign minister stat(ing) that ‘a (Chinese) delegation will visit Namibia … for discussions … on the way forward regarding plans for the proposed naval base in Walvis Bay.’”

According to the letter, a Chinese delegation including technical staff and naval architects would meet with Namibian officials sometime after March 21, 2015 to discuss a field feasibility study for the base.

Beijing told Namibian diplomats that a “Chinese naval presence will deter any would-be illegal trawlers and smugglers.”

China’s Indian Ocean-based “string-of-pearls” naval base strategy to protect the country’s 21st Century vision of a “maritime silk road” looks like it may now extend all the way to the South Atlantic.

If such a development came to fruition, it would have major strategic implications for the West.

During my visit to Walvis Bay, China’s plan to build a naval base was the talk of the town.

Several Namibians pointed out that China already has a major satellite-tracking installation in-country. China is developing key uranium mines. Chinese immigrants are opening shops in every corner of the land.

A Namibian told me he would not be surprised if Namibia soon elects its first Chinese member of parliament. One local who works at the harbor said he has heard the PLA Navy will deploy four-to-six warships to the prospective base.

Once that happens, he said, Namibia becomes, in essence, a Chinese colony.

Read more at RealClearDefense.