The Atlantic Ocean is viewed by the US as a strategic front yard, and thus a permanent Chinese military presence there poses a serious threat to US security. China has been actively working to establish naval bases on Africa’s western coast, while the US has been working to persuade African leaders to prevent such a fleet from settling in the Atlantic Ocean.
In recent years, the US and Gabon have been negotiating a security cooperation agreement, with plans for U.S. training to help Gabon secure its borders. Meanwhile, in Equatorial Guinea, the US has flagged Chinese efforts to establish a base, with Equatorial Guinea’s ambassador in Washington stating that China has provided military equipment and training, as well as infrastructure.
Despite these efforts by China to establish naval bases on Africa’s western coast, only one African port serves as a permanent base for Chinese ships and troops: Djibouti’s seven-year-old facility. The Biden administration is expected to find a way to legally provide incentives to thwart China’s military ambitions. US officials are closely monitoring the situation to see where the Chinese will turn next.
In addition to security cooperation with Gabon and hosting Gabon in U.S.-led West and Central Africa naval exercises aimed at fighting piracy and illegal fishing, the US is also taking steps to counter the influence of the Chinese army in the Atlantic Ocean and prevent Chinese military bases in African countries with coastal access.