China yesterday said it was considering an offer from the Seychelles to host Chinese naval ships in the Indian Ocean nation, highlighting the increasing global reach of a navy that recently launched its first aircraft carrier.
State-run media gave prominent coverage to the Seychelles offer to allow rest and resupply for Chinese ships in the multinational force conducting anti-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia, which China has joined since late 2008.
However, the reports were careful to reaffirm China’s firm policy of not establishing permanent military bases overseas, a cornerstone of Beijing’s claim that it is not seeking regional hegemony or military alliances.
“China’s position is clear. China has never set up military bases in other countries,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Liu Weimin (劉為民) told reporters at a daily news briefing.
Chinese ships assigned to the anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden have visited several ports to allow their crews to rest and to take on supplies, including in Yemen and Oman on the Arabian Peninsula and Djibouti on the Horn of Africa.
The China Daily newspaper said the invitation from the Seychelles was issued during a visit to the nation by Chinese Minister of National Defense Liang Guanglie (梁光烈) earlier this month.
The Chinese navy has grown in recent years into a force spanning the globe, sending ships to the Caribbean on goodwill missions and into the Mediterranean to escort vessels evacuating Chinese from the fighting in Libya.