Ships carrying Chinese military personnel departed from Zhanjiang in southern China's Guangdong Province.
China will open its first overseas military base in Djibouti, where there are bases other global players.
Djibouti's location in the Indian Ocean's northwestern edge could potentially become another of China's "string of pearls" of numerous military alliances surrounding India, including Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. China had already begun construction of a logistics base in Djibouti previous year that they claimed will aim to resupply naval vessels working for peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Somalia and Yemen. Even though Beijing describes it as a logistics unit, this appears to be its very first worldwide military base.
Two warships of the Chinese navy with an unspecified number of troops have already left China and are on the way to Djibouti.The activation of the base is a direct threat to U.S. operations and the Indian Navy which, along with the U.S. Navy, dominates the Indian Ocean and Arabian sea.
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"The base will also be conducive to overseas tasks including military co-operation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of global strategic seaways".
Xinhua said the establishment of the base was a decision made by both countries after "friendly negotiations, and accords with the common interest of the people from both sides".
The base has not been established for China's strategic deployment of military forces, but for implementing the country's escorting, peace-keeping and humanitarian aid missions in Africa and West Asia.
"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", it said.
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The US government said this move reflects China's going influence in the region while the Chinese officials asserted that China is not seeking to expand its military base into other countries. They have competition in the form of a Chinese military base.
But an editorial (in Chinese) on Wednesday in the state-run Global Times said that the "essential goal of China's development of its military might is to protect "China's safety", and is not about seeking to control the world". According to a report by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), cooperation with Africa on peace and security is now an "explicit part of Beijing's foreign policy". "It will also help promote economic and social development in Djibouti", he said. Apart from these two nations, Djibouti also hosts troops from France and Japan on its territory. Djibouti's occupies a strategic position on the tip of the Horn of Africa and controls access to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.
However, the base has sparked concern in India, with New Delhi worrying that this could be the first of many Chinese outposts in the Indian Ocean, Reuters reported.
The US Department of Defense had said in a report that the base, along with regular naval vessel visits to foreign ports, reflects and amplifies China's growing influence.
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