China dispatched troops to set up its first military base overseas on Tuesday. After a ceremony in the southern port city of Zhanjiang, military personnel embarked on a voyage to the East African country of Djibouti to establish an outpost “conducive to China’s performance of international obligations,” state-run media report.
The base is generally intended to “assist China’s contribution to peace and stability both in Africa and worldwide,” according to the Xinhua News Agency.
Specifically, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that means supporting anti-piracy efforts in the region, performing “humanitarian rescue” and helping to “drive Djibouti’s economic and social development.”
Reuters reports that the small country, which is on the Horn of Africa, perched at the mouth of the Red Sea, already boasts U.S., French and Japanese military bases. In fact, as NPR’s Renee Montagne noted when China broke ground on the base last year, the U.S. has its own major base in the same port city where China is establishing its military presence.