When a reporter asked about Somalia-China relations in a recent interview, AFRICOM commander Gen. Stephen Townsend looked visibly concerned.
“We’ll just have to see,” he said, adding that “conversations between the Chinese and the Somalis happen on a regular basis.” “They’ve talked about a lot of things,” he continued, including the possibility of China establishing its second military base in the Horn of Africa, in Somalia, after Djibouti, but that the US was assured that Somalia was a partner, implying that this was unlikely. Somalia has yet to respond to his remarks.
China has been working to improve relations with Somalia’s government, with both foreign ministers meeting on the sidelines of the OIC summit last week in Pakistan.
China made a significant donation to Somalia’s military on March 18th, in a ceremony attended by the country’s top general and defense minister. $5 million in defense aid, 20 off-road trucks, 5 field ambulances, and 22 mine detectors were among the items delivered.
“This is a clear indication of our longstanding and friendly relations, which date back centuries,” said Fei Shengchao, the Chinese ambassador to Somalia.