China sends troops to its 'support base' in East Africa

China dispatches troops to set up military base in Djibouti

This will be used to resupply Chinese Navy ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular.

On Tuesday, the Chinese Defense Ministry announced the official opening of a naval logistics center of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa.

The Chinese navy has long assisted in anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden, as well as United Nations peacekeeping efforts throughout Africa, but the base will be the country's first naval base overseas.

No word yet on when it might formally begin operations.

The base will also be conducive to overseas tasks, including military cooperation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of worldwide strategic seaways, the Xinhua report said.

While the move has raised quite a few eyebrows with many wondering about the timing, Jun Zhengping Studio, PLA Daily's WeChat account, said in an article that the restructuring process was being carried out by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to boost other sections of the forces.

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China would not seek military expansionism or get into arms races no matter what happened, it said.

The Global Times, a newspaper which often takes a nationalist tone, said the new facility was indeed a military base.

China joins the US, France and Japan, among others, with permanent bases in Djibouti, a former French colony with a population of less than one million residents. It's not a business resupply point.

China's military development was about protecting its own security, it said, adding, "It's not about seeking to control the world". Beijing, which is rapidly modernizing its military, has denied that claim.

The deployment, initiated July 11, not only represents the natural extension of China's expanding interests and security mission in the region, but it also heralds Beijing's increasingly global ambitions, a trend driving a parallel growth in the active involvement of the Chinese military in foreign missions.

Beijing responded by saying it is “firmly opposed” to the report, which is said included “irresponsible remarks” and “disregarded facts.”. The Chinese government signed a 10 year agreement with their Djibouti counterpart in 2015 to start work on the military base in the African state.

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