China has started sending its military personnel through ships from the
southern part of the country since July 11 to its first military base in
Djibouti port strategically placed near the entrance of the Suez Canal. The
movement of troops is significant since it has started a day after the
launching of Malabar Exercises of US Indian and Japanese Navies off the Chennai
Coast on July 10
Chinese official news agency Xinhua said on July 11 that the ships had
departed from Zhanjiang in southern china to set up a support base in Djibouti.
The new agency however did not state when the base will start operations.
China began construction of a logistics base in Djibouti last year. It will
be used to resupply navy ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian
missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular. It will be China’s
first overseas naval base, though Beijing officially describes it as a
Xinhua said the establishment of the base was a decision made by the two
countries after “friendly negotiations, and accords with the common interest of
the people from both sides”.
“The base will ensure China’s performance of missions, such as escorting,
peacekeeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia,” it said.
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 international
strategic seaways,” Xinhua said.
Djibouti is at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the
Suez Canal. The tiny, barren nation sandwiched between Ethiopia, Eritrea and
Somalia also hosts US, Japanese and French bases.