BEIJING Feb 25 China has begun construction of
a logistics base in Djibouti, the Ministry of Defence said on
Thursday, what the Horn of African country's government calls a
military facility that will be China's first overseas.
Last year, China said it was in talks to build what it
describes as naval "support facilities" in the Horn of Africa
nation, which has fewer than a million people but is striving to
become an international shipping hub.
Djibouti, strategically located at the southern entrance to
the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal, is already home to
U.S. and French bases, while other navies often use its port.
China and Djibouti have reached consensus on the facility,
which will be used primarily for military rest and resupply in
carrying out naval escort, peacekeeping and humanitarian duties,
Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said.
"Currently, initial construction on the relevant facilities
has already started and China has already dispatched some
personnel to launch relevant work," Wu told reporters at a
regular monthly press briefing.
He did not elaborate.
China had conducted anti-piracy operations in the region in
recent years and is seeking to expand its capacity to respond to
growing threats to its interests abroad.
President Xi Jinping is reforming the military and investing
in submarines and aircraft carriers, as China's navy becomes
more assertive in its territorial disputes in the East and South
China is also expanding its peacekeeping role, with Xi
pledging in September to contribute 8,000 troops for a United
Nations stand-by force that could provide logistical and
operational experience the military would need to operate
While China has been getting more involved diplomatically in
trouble spots such as the Middle East, it is adamant that it
does not interfere in the affairs of other countries, and is the
only permanent member of the U.N. Security Council which has not
taken military action in Syria.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Michael Martina;
Editing by Richard Borsuk)