China sends troops to Djibouti, establishes first overseas military base

Djibouti

Djibouti

State news office said in a short report late on Tuesday the boats had withdrawn from Zhanjiang in southern China "to set up a help base in Djibouti".

Geng said support base will better serve Chinese troops when they escort ships in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast, perform humanitarian rescue, and carry out other worldwide obligations.

The base can also serve as a crucial link in its logistics chain supporting United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa as well as any future Chinese interventions on the African continent.

"It's not about seeking to control the world", said the editorial.

China has deployed vessels to the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast on escort missions since 2008. The base will also enable China to undertake naval operations and rescue missions, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

"So we see a number of uncharacteristic moves by China in the last few years - first, dispatching a battalion of peacekeepers to a conflict in South Sudan". To that end, over the past two years, China has cut down its defence spending with the military budget in 2017 standing at 7 percent, the lowest hike in more than 10 years.

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

"This particular piece of geography is very, very important to our strategic interests", Waldhauser said in joint appearance with US Defense Secretary James Mattis.

The People's Daily cites an article published by the PLA announcing that "the old military structure, where the army accounts for the vast majority, will be replaced after the reform". In addition, the US operates an airfield in Djibouti from which the Pentagon launches drone strikes in the region. The Djibouti base is likely to be the first of many to follow around the world and will become a testing ground for China's more proactive foreign policy. "Foreign public opinion focuses on the base for good reason; this base will support China's navy to go farther afield, and it is of great significance".

Paice points out that China made a substantial investment in Djibouti - about $500 million, according to reports - to build the Djibouti portion of a rail line to the capital of neighboring Ethiopia.

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