Cover: Powering the PLA Abroad

Powering the PLA Abroad

How the Chinese Military Might Fuel Its Overseas Presence

Published in: China Brief, Volume 22, Issue 9, pages 16-27 (2022)

Posted on rand.org Feb 2, 2024

by Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga

The establishment of China's first official overseas military base in Djibouti in 2017 set the precedent for People's Liberation Army (PLA) units to be permanently stationed abroad. Many foreign analysts assume that China will continue expanding its overseas military presence, most likely through a mix of adding new bases and leveraging dual-use ports. The 2021 U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) report on the Chinese military lists "Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Seychelles, Tanzania, Angola, and Tajikistan" as locations where Beijing is "pursuing additional military facilities to support naval, air, ground, cyber, and space power projection" (DoD, November 3, 2021). China faces many challenges in establishing and sustaining a more global military presence, but one overlooked yet fundamental consideration is the energy resources necessary to fuel its international military presence and operations. This article explores PLA research concerning potential challenges of overseas energy supplies and one perhaps surprising solution: renewable energy.

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