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Djibouti: Chinese troops depart for first overseas military base

Picture of Chinese naval personnel in Djibouti in 2015Image copyright China News Service
Image caption The Chinese navy has visited Djibouti previously, with a ship docking at the tiny African nation port in 2015

Ships carrying Chinese troops are heading to Djibouti to set up Beijing’s first overseas military base, reports state media outlet Xinhua.

China says the support base will be used for peacekeeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and West Asia.

It will also be used for military co-operation, naval exercises and rescue missions, said the Xinhua report.

The move comes as China has ramped up investment and influence in Africa and the Indian Ocean in recent years.

The Xinhua report did not specify the number of troops or ships that departed for Djibouti, nor when the base would start operations.

It said the Djibouti base came after “friendly negotiations” between the two countries. Previous reports said construction began last year.

Djibouti, a tiny country at the Horn of Africa, hosts military bases for several foreign countries including the US, Japan and France.

It is favoured for its location, as it sits near a busy shipping route and is seen as a model of stability in an otherwise volatile region.

In 2015, China pledged to invest $60bn (then £40bn) in Africa’s development. That same year it embarked on its first foreign peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

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