China sends troops to Djibouti, establishes first overseas military base

China dispatches troops to set up military base in Djibouti

Chinese troops have been dispatched to the country's first overseas military base as Beijing beefs up its worldwide presence.

China's defence ministry said that a ceremony was held at a naval pier in the southern Chinese port of Zhanjiang presided over by navy commander Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong.

A Chinese state news agency reported the base is going to improve China's performance in peacekeeping and humanitarian aid missions in Africa and west Asia. "This base can support Chinese Navy to go farther, so it means a lot", according to CNN.

China's military development was about protecting its own security, it said, adding, "It's not about seeking to control the world".

"The reform is based on China's strategic goals and security requirements".

"China has been deploying naval ships to waters off Somalia in the Gulf of Aden to conduct escorting missions since 2008", said Geng. Located on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean, it is also strategically important for India.

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China began construction of a logistics base in strategically located Djibouti a year ago that will resupply naval vessels taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular.

In 2015, China detached three navy ships from the anti-piracy patrols to rescue Chinese citizens and other foreign nationals from fighting in Yemen. The project is a revival of ancient silk routes, and is also a way for China to assert geopolitical influence in places where US President Donald Trump's "America First" policy has left a power vacuum.

Though small in both population and size, Djibouti's position on the tip of the Horn of Africa offers strategic access to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. The move is also set to increase the number of personnel in PLA Strategic Support Force and the PLA Rocket Force.

Touted by military experts as one of the most strategically important United States military bases overseas, Camp Lemonnier has been dramatically expanded since it was built in 2001.

In April, US Defense Secretary James Mattis visited Djibouti, which houses Camp Lemonnier, the largest known US military base in the African continent.

This will be China's first overseas naval base, although Beijing officially describes it as a logistics facility.

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