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Chinese troops have departed for Africa to establish a military base for logistical support in Djibouti, the first such Chinese facility to be set up outside its borders, a local media report said on Wednesday.
Two ships carrying soldiers and military equipment left the southern port of Zhanjiang on Tuesday, following a farewell ceremony by the People's Liberation Army for the units in charge of the new base in the Horn of Africa, Efe news reported.
The base will support China's military operations in Africa and Asia as part of international humanitarian missions, escorting ships to avoid piracy and peacekeeping, the Army said.
After China showed interest in opening such a base in 2015, Beijing reiterated many times that the facility would not be for military expansion but to provide logistics support to international activities and protection of maritime routes.
Djibouti already hosts military bases set up by the US, France and Japan, which support warships escorting convoys carrying humanitarian aid to different countries in the region and guard the waters against maritime piracy, apart from other objectives.