This is the moment Djiboutian soldiers take part in a training exercise coordinated by US army advisors as tensions mount in the only country in the world where the two dominant powers have military bases so close together.
The footage shows soldiers from the Armed Forces of Djibouti (FAD) and Batailion d’intervention Rapide (BIR) practising infantry tactics during a training session hosted by the US army in the East African country of Djibouti last Friday (28th May).
Djibouti, a tiny nation located on the Horn of Africa, is home to just 884,000 citizens, but has become strategically important to both the United States and China due to its proximity to the Suez Canal.
The country is home to the biggest US military base on the African content and just 12 kilometres (7.8 miles) from the American base sits the Chinese military base housing an estimated 2,000 troops.
This is the only country in the world where the two dominant powers have military bases so close together.
Their interest in the tiny country spawns from its control over a chokepoint known as the ‘Gate of Tears’ at the entrance to the Suez Canal and the Red Sea from the Indian Ocean.
The chokepoint, which stretches 50 kilometres (31 miles) from Djibouti over to Yemen, is used by approximately 30,000 ships every year with an estimated 3 million barrels of oil passing through the strait every day.
China has been investing huge sums of money in Africa and is now the continent’s largest trading partner, according to the Brooking Institute.
Djibouti has received several infrastructure loans from Chinese banks and according to the Diplomat, its debt to China now exceeds 70 percent of its GDP.
CNN reported that the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) the US body responsible for the defence department’s relationship with Africa, is becoming increasingly wary of losing influence in Djibouti and Africa in general.
The United States has repeatedly accused China of leveraging its debt to demand political concessions from African countries, something Beijing has repeatedly denied.
Lina Benabdallah, Wake Forest University assistant professor, said: “The lack of trust between Washington and Beijing is really spreading and it has taken on a global dimension.”