Africa could be massive battlefield in 'inevitable' war between the US and China as Xi stakes claim to continent

AFRICA could become a massive battlefield in a war between China and the United States as the President Xi Jinping stakes claim to the continent, experts warned.

The Communist Party is quietly expanding into the eastern part of Africa asit sets up military bases and expands its influence through infrastructure projects across in at least 11 nations.

Experts told The Sun Online that Africa could be the theatre of a potential land war between the US and China as fears of conflict continue to simmer between two of the world's largest military powers.

Both sides have military bases just eight miles apart in the key strategic nation of Djibouti – which can be used to control entrance to the Red Sea and Suez Canal.

The US has some 29 military bases in Africa, as well as plenty more in the nearby Middle East, and China has previously boasted it wants to boost its presence on the continent to expand its power.

U.S. Gen. Stephen Townsend warned today said Beijing was looking to establish a large navy port capable of hosting submarines or aircraft carriers on Africa’s western coast.

Townsend said China has approached countries stretching from Mauritania to south of Namibia, intent on establishing a naval facility.

The east coast of Africa ranging from Djibouti down to Mozambique would be incredibly contested in a peer state conflict with China

If realised, that prospect would enable China to base warships in its expanding navy in the Atlantic as well as Pacific oceans.

Meanwhile, General Xu Qiliang, China’s second in command of the armed forces after Xi, recently said war with the United States was "inevitable".

And this comment came as Beijing called for higher defence spending to match the might of the US.

Military expert Robert Clark, from the Henry Jackson Society, told The Sun Online: "The centre of gravity for the continent are the ports which offer a strategic advantage for whoever controls them — and their access routes further into the continent. 

"The Atlantic coast is relatively safe due to a NATO and US presence, but the east coast of Africa ranging from Djibouti down to Mozambique would be incredibly contested in a peer state conflict with China.

"There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that China is increasing their sphere of influence across Africa."


China already has a naval base at Djibouti and has integrated land forces within various UN peacekeeping missions, including in Mali, where the British Army is also operating.

It also has been heavily investing in African countries in return for access to resources – particularly central Africa – so has the ability to control access and land between both the Indian and Atlantic oceans.

Professor Gerald Horne, from the University of Houston, told The Sun Online: "Certainly, the signs of impending conflict between China and the U.S. are worrisome, especially as suggested in the recent novel by NATO former leader, James Stavridis. 

"Since Djibouti contains bases of both China and the US (and others) it is likely the flashpoint."

Gyude Moore, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Global Development and Liberia’s former minister of public works, gave the same assement.

He said: "The two countries have military bases within eight miles of each other in Djibouti.

"Should they become belligerents, it is plausible that hostilities could extend to their forces stationed in Djibouti."

The Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army already can field a fearsome ground force comprising of 7,000 tanks and 3,000 infantry fighting vehicles as well as the largest navy in terms of tonnage, and some 2.8million servicemen.

Maj. Gen. Richard Coffman, director of the US Army Futures Command's Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team, warned a war may involve a land war in Africa. 

China opened its base in Djibouti which is located in the strategically important Horn of Africa, in 2017.

The People's Liberation Army deployed troops to the base, but assured China was "not seeking to control the world".

The small country lies on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a gateway to the Suez Canal, which is one of the world's busiest shipping routes.

Djibouti also provides a vital port for landlocked neighbour Ethiopia, even more important now as a railway between both their capitals is completed.

The country is also home to military bases from the US and France, the former colonial power.

Many experts now anticipate more Chinese bases in the years to come, with Namibia rumored as a potential location.

Gen. Coffman, speaking at a Webinar, said any conflict would quickly change from a naval war to a land war in Africa – even if the conflict started in Asia.

Currently, major tensions are growing with China’s neighbours over the oil and fish-rich South China Sea where Beijing has been building bases on artificial islands in a bid to take it over.

And another flashpoint is Taiwan which China views as part of its territory and has long threatened to use force to bring it under its control.

The top general said: "We don’t want to go to war but what if? What does that look like? How will it happen? 

"It wouldn’t self-limit to the South China Sea, they wouldn’t self-limit to the Taiwan Strait 

"They are competing globally and in conflict, you can trust they will fight globally. It’s bigger than a piece of ocean, I can guarantee that.

"In Asia alone, the boot of China should this conflict occur will be felt on the neck of men and women in Ho Chi Min City, Bangkok and other friendly countries. "

"It will go… to Africa and that’s over land, space, air, sea and cyberspace."

But Dr David Monyae, the Director of the Centre for Africa – China Studies at the University of Johannesburg,disagreed with Maj. Gen. Coffman’s land war claims, saying it was an "alarmist statement designed to attract more resources under the Biden administration". 

He told Sun Online: "There will be tensions around the South China Sea, specifically Taiwan, but these tensions won’t lead to any war. 

"Africa is not in any way close to these military calculus."

But having said that, Dr Monyae said the US and China have military bases in Djibouti and there could be "accidental military tensions between these actors".

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