Several Western media outlets have reported on March 29 the news of the docking at the port of Djibouti of a Chinese military ship, the supply unit Luomahu, class Type 903A, stressing that this first visit of a Chinese unit represents a further progress in cooperation between Djibouti and Beijing.
The news has been commented with concern by the United States, which interprets it as a confirmation of China’s renewed willingness to expand its range of action in the Indian Ocean, within a relationship with Djibouti that not a few in Washington define as ambiguous.
The Chinese Navy, which had not given prior notice of the docking of the ship, has instead during the last week provided some details in relation to the visit of its unit at the Chinese military base in Djibouti, defining it as part of a normal operational activity in support of Chinese military units in the area.
The Luomahu, which is part of China’s 40th Naval Group, is reportedly on an escort mission in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia, and left its home port in China on Jan. 15. Instead, the 40th Naval Group’s mission would focus on training Chinese special forces in anti-piracy and anti-terrorism missions through a series of exercises planned in different areas of the Gulf of Aden.
The press organs of the Chinese Navy have contested the tone of the Western press regarding the presence of its naval unit in Djibouti, built on the version of a “Chinese threat”, defining the presence of its naval group as a normal training activity, no different from that carried out by the military units of many other Western countries.